When meeting with new clients, I typically will include in my conversation a discussion about which process may be the right one for divorcing parties to use to help make the decisions that need to be made. Generally, the process options available to parties are as follows:
- Kitchen Table – there is absolutely nothing wrong with sitting down with your spouse and discussing what you have and how to divide it. I generally encourage clients participating in this process to have an attorney available for consultation purposes and to assist with any drafting that may be required.
- Mediation – A “parties only” mediation is a process in which the mediator is neutral. Their job is to inform the parties of what decisions need to be made, help brainstorm ideas and options and assist the parties to arrive at agreements. The mediator cannot give legal advice and so parties in this process typically should have an attorney available for consultation and to assist with any drafting that the mediator may not be willing to do.
- Collaborative Divorce – parties to this process each have their own attorney who is available to provide real time legal and process advice. In King County, we also typically include a divorce coach who provides emotional support, communication support, assistance with the creation of Parenting Plans and discussions concerning parenting as divorced parents. We also include a financial neutral who gathers the financial records, creates asset spreadsheets, works with budgets, child support and scenario development to assist parties in making the best post-divorce financial choices.
- Attorney Settlement – this is a more traditional form of legal representation in which the parties have attorneys who are actively involved in the discovery process (information gathering designed to determine the estate of the parties), and to directly negotiate with the other attorney or party to resolve the issues in the divorce. This process may include court hearings in addition to formal discovery.
- Settlement Conference – this process includes a mediator, parties and their attorneys who are in different rooms. The mediator shuttles between the two rooms and works with the parties and their attorneys to exchange offers and negotiate a settlement.
- Court – if none of the above processes work, the parties can always avail themselves of Court and have a trial where the judge will decide the issues that have not been agreed upon between the parties.
To schedule a consultation call (425) 822-0283 or visit www.felbecklaw.com. Sakaguchi, Felbeck & Reese, PLLC. is located at 520 Kirkland Way, Suite 400, Kirkland, WA 98033.