Frequently Asked Questions


Isn't Collaborative Law Just Like Mediation?

Well trained Collaborative Professionals such as those on this website use many of the same skills as mediators. The Collaborative Process however has significant difference that clearly distinguish it from mediation. Court is largely removed as a viable threat in the Collaborative Process so one party cannot threaten, "take my offer or I'm going to court" as can occur in mediation. Many mediations occur without attorneys, or with attorneys who are still in the adversarial approach. In the Collaborative Process, attorneys advise and advocate but also work together with the other participants as part of a team, usually face to face in four way meetings.

Are There Good Collaborative Professionals in Spokane?

All of the attorneys on this website have been specially trained in the Collaborative Process and in mediation. They are the only attorneys in the Spokane area who have this combined training. All attorneys on this site are deeply committed to making Collaborative Practice succeed. Many have committed hundreds of hours to bring Collaborative Practice to the Spokane area. They have been interested or heavily involved in promoting Collaborative Practice for years. As part of this commitment, most if not all of the attorneys on this site charge a lower hourly rate for Collaborative Practice work than for traditional legal work. Most, if not all, attorneys offer a free initial consultation to talk about Collaborative Practice. All of the attorneys on this site have taken more training or attended more related education seminars than the minimum qualifications required for membership in Spokane County Collaborative Professionals. All of the attorneys on this website are committed to following the advice and guidelines of world experts in the Collaborative Process and are members of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.

Can I Use An Attorney Who Has Not Been Trained in Collaborative Law?

You have the right to chose your own attorney, irrespective of their type of practice and type of training.  However, Collaborative Practice is a near total reversal of the adversarial approach to the law that has been traditionally taught by law schools.  To have the best chance of success utilizing this new and innovative method of practice, you should select an attorney that has made the personal commitment to study, learn, and practice the Collaborative Process.  For this reason, SCCP has established minimum training requirements to be considered a trained Collaborative Professional.

Is Collaborative Practice Only For Divorce?

Collaborative Practice can be used in all kinds of Family Law situations and for other areas of the law as well. It has been used to resolve disputes regarding child support, paternity, third-party custody, parenting plan modifications, maintenance modifications, residential schedules and a host of other family law concerns. It can also be used for employment disputes, probate issues, as well as some guardianship and real estate issues. It is being used in medical malpractice cases. If you have a dispute, ask an attorney trained in the Collaborative Model whether your dispute can be resolved with Collaborative Practice.

How Can This Work If My Spouse Does Not Listen to Me and We Can't Talk About Anything?

Learning new skills and breaking old patterns can be uncomfortable at first and takes some practice. Your Collaborative Attorneys will structure the contact between you and your spouse to promote good communication and to make sure no one manipulates or controls anyone else. Your individual Attorney's job is to make sure your needs and interests are made known and that the process and settlement addresses those interests. If need be your Collaborative Attorney will facilitate the involvement of other professionals to assist in the process.

How Do I Get My Spouse or Opponent to Participate?

Once your spouse or partner understands the advantages of the Collaborative Process he or she will be glad you found out about this superior option. Your Attorney can help educate your spouse about the following advantages of the Collaborative Process:

  1. you two are in control of the outcome
  2. you two are best able to recognize a fair settlement and what is best for your children
  3. you set the timetable, not the Court or the Attorneys
  4. it's less stressful
  5. it's easier on the children
  6. the needs and interests of both parties will be addressed
  7. you won't waste time tearing each other apart and making a sad situation worse
  8. you will end up in a different relationship than you have now but a better relationship than if you go to court
  9. you will have more respect for yourself and how your ex-partner behaved during a difficult period than if you resort to petty, sand-box like behavior
  10. most if not all of the embarrassing information that is publicly available in traditional divorces can be kept private.

What if My Spouse is Abusive or Abuses Drugs and Alcohol?

Your safety must be our first concern. However, please consult with a trained Collaborative Attorney before running to Court. Opinions differ on this topic. Some attorneys feel most abuse situations require a traditional approach while others feel such situations are better handled in the Collaborative Process than in Court. Clearly such situations are more difficult and require closer monitoring to be sure the abuse is appropriately curbed. In Court, if a sanction or treatment is ordered, it is unlikely that it will be successful because the perpetrator is being "told" what to do and can easily reject the needed treatment as a sanction from an unworthy authority figure. Because of the confidentiality of the Collaborative Process, it is easier for the participants to be forthcoming about their weaknesses and thereby take the first steps towards accepting and choosing effective solutions and treatments. Immediate Court action is sometimes necessary but keep in mind that once you start down the traditional litigation road, it is may be harder to make a u-turn back to the Collaborative Process.

Can We Agree to Anything?

Your documents will ultimately have to be signed by a judge. There are limitations on what a judge can sign, especially in the area of child support. Your attorney will guide you into certain acceptable parameters but in general, you are in control of the out come. The exciting thing about Collaborative Practice is that when the rules allow you to effectively work with your spouse you will find better solutions than the Court can and you will be more likely to follow the agreements you create. Furthermore if there are disputes in the future your experience with the Collaborative Process will have equipped you to more easily handle the situation without the expense of litigation.

Will We Still Have to Go To Court?

Every case is different of course but certainly the Collaborative Practice is nearly always cheaper than the traditional litigation process. What sense does it make to pay to obtain information you should freely exchange? What sense does it make to hire competing experts? Most couples, even when they are mad and hurt, have the ability to eventually determine what is best for their children and to make a fair division of their assets. In the traditional setting, this stage is delayed or never reached because the rules first require you to tear each other apart during temporary orders or in preparation for a possible trial. Most attorneys know roughly where your case is going to end up after a few minutes of talking with you. However, they don't know how to get you there without many thousands of dollars of dysfunctional war effort. With the help of a trained Collaborative Attorney the Collaborative Process lets you get to settlement without wasting time, money and feelings on fruitless attacks.