Cooperative Divorce

Create a climate where compromise can take place

The purpose of a cooperative divorce is to minimize the time, pain, cost, and emotional destruction of the traditional litigation divorce process usually seen in courtrooms throughout Washington State.

A cooperative divorce is similar to a Collaborative Dissolution in that it centers on a respectful negotiation process involving a series of settlement conferences between the parties and their attorneys. Cooperative divorce is an informal agreement that does not require both attorneys to be specially trained in Collaborative Law or to follow the collaborative process. The one main advantage of a cooperative divorce is that you don’t have to lose or fire your attorney if the case cannot settle and court action becomes required. As the name states, a cooperative divorce starts with both sides and their attorneys recognizing the civility of the process with good faith exchange of information, but it is not a collaborative case.

Contrary to popular opinion, divorce does not have to be contentious

Every year, thousands of couples dissolve their marriages in a respectful and cooperative manner. The primary benefit of not litigating a divorce is the obvious one, avoiding costly and expensive hearings and reaching a compromised agreement versus an exhausting trial.

Experts give the following advice for individuals considering a cooperative divorce:

  • Don’t bring your emotions to the table – Nothing breaks down a cooperative negotiation faster than unchecked emotions or blame from the past. Remember that the point of these communications is resolution, not revisiting old arguments and hurts, but focusing on the future.
  • Differentiate between your wants and needs – Don’t rely on your initial thoughts. Sit down and write out a list. Then rank your wants from most to least important. Identify which wants you are willing to give up for the sake of cooperation and keep in mind that it is very unlikely that you will get everything on your list. Figure out what you need by taking a long, objective look at your finances. Determine how much money is necessary to meet your needs. Be honest with yourself and consider the other side’s position too.
  • Be willing to consider various options – It may sound unlikely, but your spouse may have some good ideas. Open your mind to various alternatives. Your attorney can prove extremely helpful here, by providing you with several different settlement options to consider based on his or her experience and legal knowledge.
  • Consider your spouse’s needs and wants – You probably know enough about your spouse to identify what he or she wants out of the negotiations and what he or she needs to live comfortably. Think about your spouse’s needs as well as your own, and work towards a resolution that satisfies both of you. As hard as it may seem, there is a win-win solution if you work hard at finding the common grounds of your needs and respect for each other’s futures. The more considerate you are of your spouse’s situation, the more likely you are to come up with a binding, durable final settlement.

By fostering a cooperative environment for negotiation with your spouse, you can work towards a friendly and respectful resolution to the divorce process.

Interested in learning more?

Contact Soloman Law at 206-355-4555 to schedule a consultation to determine whether a cooperative approach to divorce is the right choice for you.


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