Divorce and Family law is not “one size fits all.”
You know your family best. There are many different options available when considering how to handle your divorce or family law case. Each client should be aware of all these options, and pick one that best suits their needs and the needs of their family. The best piece of advice I can give is make sure the attorney you consult with tells you about all of the different options so you can pick the best one for your family. If you only hear about going to court, you are missing out on many less costly and less destructive ways to handle your case.
Collaborative Family Law helps families find respectful ways to resolve conflicts to ensure the well-being of all parties. Collaborative Law family law cases can include divorces, legal separations or non-marital couple separations, custody issues, parentage actions, child support issues and other issues which relate to families and their disputes.
To learn more about the Collaborative process, please visit our Collaborative Law page.
Cooperative law is similar to collaborative law, the main difference being in the cooperative approach, the clients and attorneys do not sign a participation agreement requiring the attorneys to withdraw if the case cannot be resolved in the collaborative process. Many attorneys who practice family law are very cooperative, and the case can be steered towards resolution without wasting unnecessary money in litigation.
Uncontested Divorce and Family Law
Some clients agree with the other person on all issues in their family law legal matter, but they simply want to have an attorney offer some guidance, draft all the court documents and enter them with the court; this is a non-contested case. Our office provided uncontested representation for a flat fee; no attorney retainer fees are required.
Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process in which a neutral third party, (the mediator) helps the clients come to agreements that resolve their legal dispute. There are different kinds of mediation; our law office offers Interest Based Mediation to help the clients come to mutually agreeable resolutions. Mediation can occur with just the clients, or each client can have an attorney represent their interests during the mediation process.
Self-Help “Unbundled” Representation
Self-help or “unbundled” representation is limited legal help to the client, but not full representation in the courts. Some clients just need a little bit of help as they represent themselves, or they may want help drafting their legal documents. Our office can help you at any step of the legal process with no attorney retainer required; we offer these services on an hourly basis, payable at the time of service.
Litigation or “going to court” is when you ask the court to decide your legal matters for you. A case is begins with the filing of a Petition (Dissolution, Parenting, etc.). At filing, a trial date is set for about 11 months out in King County. Frequently a motion for temporary relief is also filed, asking the court to decide temporary matters while the case is pending. In between the filing date and the trial date, attorneys will gather information through the use of Interrogatories and Requests for Production of Documents, and perhaps through Deposing the opposing party. Even when the parties are embroiled in litigation, the Court requires they go to mediation before going to trial; most cases settle in mediation because of the exorbitant cost of going to trial. The upside to litigation is that a Judge will decide your legal disputes. The downsides are many; the high cost of getting to trial, trial costs themselves and having a judge make decisions based on seeing only a small picture of the family, decisions that neither party may like. Most people today like to have some control in the decision making process because their family will have to live with the outcome, essentially forever. I myself no longer litigate family law matters; my practice is based on options besides litigation. There are many excellent litigation attorneys in King County who I will be happy to refer to, if that is the process a client feels is in their best interests.