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  • Candace E. Duecker, CFP®, CDFA®

Collaborative Divorce Process

Collaborative divorce is a method of dissolving a marriage that aims to reduce conflict and promote a cooperative approach between the parties involved. It is facilitated outside of the court system, with both parties and their attorneys agreeing to work together in a non-adversarial manner to resolve the issues related to the divorce, such as property division, child custody, and spousal support. The divorcing parties have enormous control in this type of process as they ultimately create the agreement. It is not suitable in every situation, but can be especially beneficial for families.


If you have children or other dependents observing the way you are going through the divorce process - how would you like them to describe the way you got divorced? Would you rather them say it was a nasty experience or an amicable one?

Here is a general outline of the collaborative divorce process in Washington State:


1. Choosing the Collaborative Process:

Both parties must agree to engage in the collaborative divorce process voluntarily.

2. Selecting Collaborative Divorce Professionals:

Both parties hire attorneys trained in the collaborative divorce process. Other professionals such as financial neutrals, mental health coaches, and child specialists may be involved as needed.

3. Participation Agreement:

Parties along with their attorneys and other professionals engaged will sign a participation agreement that outlines the process and confirms the commitment to resolving issues without going to court.

4. Meetings and Negotiations:

Collaborative team meetings are held where parties discuss and negotiate the terms of the divorce agreement.

Each party, supported by their attorney and other professionals, express their needs and concerns in these meetings.

5. Developing a Parenting Plan:

If children are involved, the parties cooperate to create a parenting plan that prioritizes the best interests of the children.

6. Financial Discussions:

Full financial disclosure is necessary. Parties discuss asset division, liabilities, child support, and spousal maintenance.

7. Finalizing the Agreement:

Once an agreement is reached, the necessary legal documents are prepared and filed with the court. The court reviews the documents and may finalize the divorce without requiring a court appearance from the parties.

8. Post-Divorce:

Parties can return to the collaborative team for modifications or disputes that may arise post-divorce.


Want to learn more about the collaborative divorce process? Download this free Knowledge Kit from the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.


Legal Requirements:

Residency: At least one spouse must be a resident of Washington State.

Grounds for Divorce: Washington is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that irreconcilable differences are enough grounds for divorce.

Waiting Period: There is a mandatory waiting period of 90 days from the date the petition for divorce is filed.


Keep in mind that divorce laws and processes can change, so it's essential to consult with a Washington State family law attorney for the most up-to-date information and guidance on your specific situation.


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