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How can couples use collaborative law to settle their divorce?

Some couples in Washington may believe that the only way to get divorced is to meet up in the courtroom to present their case, and have a judge be the ultimate decision-maker. However, there are options for those seeking a divorce that could help couples work together to settle their divorce in a relatively positive manner. One of these options is collaborative law.

How does collaborative law work? Each party and their legal counsel will get together in a neutral place in order to negotiate their divorce legal issues, such as property division, child custody, alimony and child support. The goal of collaborative law is to have an open and honest conversation in order to reach a settlement that is agreeable to both parties. In collaborative law, there is no neutral facilitator or decision-maker, although other professionals such as counselors or financial experts can be consulted.

The parties in collaborative law enter into a written contract in which they agree to negotiate a settlement in a way that is fair and utilizes both of their good faith efforts. They also agree to make transparent all the necessary documents and information needed to resolve their divorce issues. The parties' attorneys agree that if the collaborative law process does not result in a settlement, and the parties thus need to turn to the court system for a resolution, that they will cease representing their clients.

Some Washington couples find that collaborative law sets the groundwork for an amicable divorce. Some may even find it less costly than litigation and that it reduces the amount of stress that accompanies a major life change. Washington attorneys experienced in collaborative law can help residents seeking a divorce determine if collaborative law is right for them.

Source: FindLaw, "Collaborative Divorce: Overview," accessed Feb. 29, 2016

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