Although courts are still open and conducting Zoom hearings, there is no doubt that many court cases are moving along more slowly than otherwise desired because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A potentially more practical and expedient method of divorce is collaborative law. Collaborative law is just how it sounds. The collaborative law model is an alternative method for resolving disputes without going to court. When both spouses in a divorce sign a collaborative law participation agreement, they are committing to negotiate in a safe environment and to work on an outcome that keeps the participants’ individual and mutual goals in mind. This setting encourages creative solutions to complex problems without the court’s involvement, thereby allowing the participants to move as fast or slow as they like. With the current pandemic, having the ability to move at your own pace is an invaluable aspect of the collaborative law model. Other benefits of collaborative law include the following:
- Collaborative law helps families come to an agreed and equitable division of assets without the expensive cost of litigation which oftentimes includes a “battle of the experts” on critical issues such as valuation of the assets and characterization of those assets (i.e., whether an asset is community property or separate property).
- Collaborative law limits hostile communications: thereby avoiding toxic damage to family relationships in favor of a more positive, encouraging foundation to restructure family connections after finalizing the divorce.
- Collaborative law allows for construction of outside-the-box solutions that can increase the value of assets each party receives by reducing the expenses incurred with protracted litigation.
- Participants can work with neutral professionals who can address certain aspects of the divorce. A mental health professional with collaborative law training can help find the goals of the participants and help broker their parenting plan while a financial professional can help with characterization and division of assets.
- Collaborative law can resolve cases quickly and efficiently which is especially important in these uncertain times.
There is no doubt that families already in conflict are going through an even more stressful time than usual, with COVID-19 affecting the ability to go about normal life for the foreseeable future, especially with distance learning right now and many summer camps canceled. If a divorce is inevitable, then collaborative law should be considered for your case as it involves a team of professionals (an attorney for each spouse, a neutral mental health professional, and a neutral financial professional) who have your back and the best interest of your family in mind.
Chad Foster is a trusted Washington lawyer serving Snohomish and King counties with an office in Bothell. Contact us today to discuss your legal issue.