At Pacific Northwest Family Law PLLC, our attorneys pride themselves on practicing collaborative law and using every weapon in our arsenal to work through the conflicts of a divorce. Though many people are familiar with dispute resolution tactics like mediation and arbitration, collaborative law is different and allows our attorneys to intervene early in the separation process in order to guide our clients to a successful conclusion.

Both mediation and collaborative law are used to avoid litigation, but there are several key differences between the two processes. First, collaborative law is generally used earlier in a separation than is divorce. Couples in Washington state are usually ordered to attend a mediation sometime after the divorce petition has already been filed and several hearings have been held. By the time most couples get to the mediation, they are already deep into a process filled with conflict, and may be less willing to work with each other.

With collaborative law, the process is meant to be used before the legal case even begins. Rather than turning directly to litigation, the collaborative law process allows a couple to work out issues like property division, child custody and support, and the assignment of income and debts. Using collaborative law, many couples can create a complete divorce plan before ever setting foot into a courtroom, allowing couples to save time, money, and retain control of their decisions.

Unlike mediation, parties in a collaborative law case are always represented by attorneys who will advocate on their behalf. Many times a mediation will take place solely between the two parties and a neutral mediator. By using a collaborative law process, each party will have an advocate on his or her side making sure that the partners’ needs and wishes are taken care of.

Finally, mediation is often a short process. Before attending a mediation, the couple can submit their own paperwork or demands which will give the mediator some context for the disputes, but the spouses may only meet with the mediator for a few hours over a single day.

In contrast, collaborative law is a process which usually requires multiple negotiating sessions to reach a complete resolution. This allows each party to consult with his or her attorney, think over contentious issues, and come up with alternative problems to solutions. By meeting multiple times, collaborative law attorneys have great success crafting a divorce or separation agreement which satisfies both parties.

If you and your spouse are having problems and are considering a divorce, think long and hard about what you hope to gain from the process. If your focus is moving on and bettering your life and the lives of your children, Pacific Northwest Family Law PLLC can help. At Pacific Northwest Family Law PLLC, our attorneys offer services which include traditional divorces, collaborative divorces, legal separations, mediations, arbitrations, and many other family law agreements.