Does every Washington divorce have to be litigated? The answer is a definite, “No.” If spouses are able to discuss important issues without acrimonious confrontation, then there may be litigation alternatives available to them so they never have to go to trial. Such alternatives have many benefits, including the ability to convert to litigation at a later time, if necessary.
One of the most popular forms of alternative dispute resolution is collaborative law divorce. Each spouse is represented by a separate attorney and additional parties — who must be impartial — may also attend negotiation sessions, such as a financial adviser or child psychologist. The goal is to achieve a fair settlement in the most cooperative fashion possible. Collaboration is typically less time-consuming and less expensive than litigation.
Washington is a community property state, which means marital assets are typically split 50/50 in divorce. Spouses may negotiate the terms of an agreement, then seek the court’s approval. In addition to all community property being equally divided, any debt incurred during marriage is evenly shared as well. Identifying community property or debt can be tricky at times, such as when funds intended to be separate are commingled in a jointly-owned bank account.
A Washington attorney can provide clarification of all state laws related to divorce if a spouse has questions about litigation alternatives, custody, support or any other matter. Avoiding litigation is not always possible, especially if those involved are hostile toward each other, in which case they would be unable to keep their agreement to peacefully negotiate the terms of their settlement. There are numerous ways to divorce and one of the services an experienced attorney can provide is helping a client determine which is the most viable option in a given set of circumstances.