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Many Washington spouses, especially those who are parents together, are currently preparing for divorce. Some want to settle the terms of their agreements without going to court, if possible. Thankfully, there are typically litigation alternatives available for doing so, including mediation and arbitration.

Alternative dispute resolution systems like these are not for everyone, however. Spouses who can barely be in the same room without fighting may want to settle their divorces through litigation. This is because both mediation and arbitration hinge upon amicable discussion and willingness to cooperate compromise in order to succeed. If parents disagree about custody issues, for instance, and are unable to negotiate a fair and agreeable co-parenting plan, it may be best to leave such decisions to the court.

On the other hand, spouses who get along well enough to have calm, rational discussions can develop their own post-divorce plan and submit it to the court for approval. This is often a less expensive means of obtaining divorce. Another possible benefit is that mediation or arbitration may take less time than litigation because the discussions are streamlined and only certain topics may be brought up.

If there are extenuating circumstances, such as allegations of substance or physical abuse, then neither mediation nor arbitration will work. Such issues generally need the court’s intervention in order to protect parental rights, as well as children’s best interests. An experienced Washington family law attorney can provide more information regarding litigation alternatives for dispute resolution and how such options may impact divorce.