Alternatives to Litigation

You might not need
to go to court

In court, the judge or commissioner decides your future. This means putting the decision-making power in the hands of a third party who does not know you or your family. There are many alternatives to empower you and your spouse to decide your own future. You do not have to agree on everything or have perfect communication to reach a joint decision.

The court process is an adversarial one. You are on one side and your spouse on the other, with the judge choosing between you. Even if ending a relationship is painful, most people do not want to go to war with their soon-to-be-ex. Instead, you may prefer to leave your marriage with closure and civility. Fighting in court can be emotionally and financially draining, but there are alternatives that can result in a win for you, your children, and your ex.

While not always the case, alternatives to court are generally less expensive and quicker than traditional litigation. Call us to schedule a consultation with our team to discuss which option may be best for you.


The Kitchen Table


If you and your partner have an uncomplicated financial situation and work together well, you may be able to sit down and come to an agreement. This is the fastest and cheapest option for a divorce, but it requires you each fully disclose all information, discuss priorities, and then reach a mutually agreed-upon settlement.


If you need help with certain topics, there are professionals who can assist you in reaching an agreement. For example, if you have no children but need assistance with finances, you could reach out to a certified divorce financial analyst. If your finances are uncomplicated but you need help on the parenting side, you could reach out to a co-parent coach. These professionals are often less expensive than court or an attorney but can help you reach an agreement.


Once you finalize your divorce, the agreements reached may be binding and difficult or impossible to change. We strongly recommend that you have your agreement reviewed by an attorney before finalizing it. Attorneys are trained to help identify and prevent issues before they arise.

Alternatives to Litigation




If you need a little more guidance than the kitchen table model provides, you may wish to seek out the services of a mediator. Mediation is required by the court in Washington, and those in litigation cannot go to trial unless they have tried to settle out of court first (except in certain circumstances).


In mediation, you and your ex voluntarily participate in resolving your dispute by agreement. The mediator is a neutral third party who facilitates a settlement helping you both communicate what you want and why.


You Can Hire a Divorce Attorney to Represent You at Any Stage During This Process.

The selection of a mediator is an essential component because the mediator controls the process. Some mediators conduct negotiations with both parties in the same room. Others utilize the shuttle system, where the parties are in separate rooms, and the mediator goes back and forth between the rooms.


Each mediator has a different style. Some are strictly facilitative and only help you and your intended ex come to an agreement from your respective positions. Others incorporate an evaluative method and offer an opinion regarding how a particular position would be perceived in court and provide alternatives to settle the matter. Generally, this form of dispute resolution is used when the parties desire an amicable divorce and genuinely feel they can work together to achieve a positive result for all.


Benefits of Divorce Mediation

• Equally shared costs by both of the parties

• A significantly lower cost compared to trial

• You can create your future instead of turning key decisions over to a judge who does not know or have the time to get to know you or your family

• Go at your pace rather than according to the court’s case schedule

• Showing your kids, if you have any, the importance of working together to solve problems

• Solutions are inhibited only by your imagination–you can think outside of the box and find creative options for your family


When you both own the mediation process, the agreement can last longer and be more durable. Ideally, you will never go back to court or fight again. Once you have successfully mediated your most important asset, your future, you might be better able to handle other disputes down the road without a judge’s oversight.


If you need help deciding if divorce mediation is right for you, speak with one of our dedicated attorneys.


Mediation Services

In Washington State, you must make a good-faith effort to resolve your disputes before going to trial. A mediator will listen to both parties’ concerns, introduce unique solutions to marital disputes, and help prioritize goals. Elise Buie Family Law can represent you at any stage of the mediation process. Our divorce lawyers can be your coach while you mediate directly with your spouse and another mediator, or we can fully represent you at a mediation.


Contact a Divorce Mediation Attorney

We assist with the preparation of mediation materials and can help you put your best case forward. While you work directly with a mediator and your soon-to-be ex, we can coach you independently so that you can maintain your fortitude and effectively articulate your position and goals throughout the process. We can meet with you before your first session and educate you about the law and your risks. We problem-solve with you to make the most out of your time with the mediator and bring a win-win attitude to the table.


Once you have a settlement worked out, we can review the language in your agreement before final orders are entered. If you cannot reach an agreement without an attorney, we can accompany you to mediation and provide the on-site advocacy and strength needed to “close the deal.” To get started on your case, call one of our divorce mediation lawyers today.





The term “mediation” is sometimes confused with a settlement conference. While in litigation, parties will often participate in mediation with their attorneys. Mediation may occur as a way to resolve temporary or permanent agreements. This style of mediation occurs as a negotiation, with each party and their attorney in separate spaces and the mediator bringing offers between them. 


If reaching an agreement outside of the court process is a priority for you and your intended ex, our team of experienced Washington State family law attorneys can help you understand your options and outline the best approach for your situation. Give us a call today to schedule a consultation.

Alternatives to Litigation


Collaborative Law


You and your spouse can sign an agreement to resolve your case outside of court through a Collaborative divorce. A collaborative divorce lawyer can guide you through the marriage dissolution process and help obtain a final agreement that benefits you and your family.


What is Collaborative Divorce?

If you and your intended ex agree that you want to avoid the court process and control how your assets are divided and decide what is best for your kids, Collaborative divorce may be an excellent path for you.


Contrary to the name, collaborative doesn’t mean you and your ex agree on everything. In this process, you are each represented by a collaboratively trained attorney. You both sign an agreement to adhere to the collaborative process, which requires honesty and respect throughout the negotiation process.


Collaborative divorce allows for private meetings between the parties. Your attorney will focus on developing creative solutions to your marital issues rather than preparing for litigation. If you and your ex get “stuck” on an issue, your lawyer can guide you toward a compromise that meets both of your needs. The laws governing divorce in Washington State act as a guide in the collaborative process, not the rulebook; you are free to make decisions that work for your family. 


Collaborative divorces focus on amicable problem-solving techniques rather than adversarial persuasion tactics. Each party has a role in the decision-making process, and everyone is committed to achieving the best possible outcome. 



How Long Does a Collaborative Divorce Take?


How long a Collaborative divorce may take depends on the complexity of your decisions and how quickly you and your ex can come to terms. Generally speaking, we often see resolution in four to ten sessions, which may occur over two to six months. 


Meeting With the Other Party

All involved parties must meet to discuss a divorce settlement at mutually agreeable times and places. Relevant information, including financial documents and bank statements, is exchanged between divorcing spouses. You must also decide whether you would benefit from the help of other neutral professionals, such as accountants or a guardian ad litem.


Finalizing the Divorce


When you and your ex reach a divorce settlement, your attorneys will work together to file the necessary documents on your behalf. A legal professional will then represent you in an uncontested divorce hearing. 

When to Consider This Approach

The Collaborative divorce process can benefit many divorcing spouses. For instance, it may be a great option if both parties want:

• To maintain a civil relationship after the divorce

• A positive co-parenting relationship

• To keep their children out of the conflict

• To avoid airing their grievances in a public courtroom

• Creative settlement options outside of those offered by the court

• Control over the outcome versus leaving the final decision to a judge

• Flexibility in scheduling meetings versus following court mandates

• A, generally, less costly way to resolve divorce

Consult With a Collaborative Law Attorney

If avoiding a lengthy and costly court battle is your goal, Collaborative divorce may be the solution. A collaborative marital dissolution gives you and your ex an equal voice in your divorce.

You should retain an attorney who is well-versed in goal-oriented negotiations and conflict resolution. Our firm’s attorneys have extensive experience in Collaborative divorce cases. Speak with one of our office’s collaborative divorce lawyers today to ensure your case’s respectful and confidential management.


Subscribe to our newsletters

Subscribe to one or more of our newsletters, delivering meaningful insight on topics that matter to you and your family.
ebl home subscribe image


Blog Posts

Unsure where to begin gathering the foundation you need to go through the divorce process with confidence and well-prepared? Consider the following 10 tips to prepare for divorce.

A common question about legal fees is why they are so high. The following article details what is built into legal fees and explains their cost.

Prenuptial agreements (also known as prenups) can play a pivotal role in safeguarding individual spousal rights in the event of divorce and can also strengthen a marriage.

Valentine’s Day can be tricky for single parents, maybe even you. Unpartnered, at least for the time being, you might not foresee your plans fitting into conventional images of the holiday. But that doesn’t have to be. Valentine’s Day, when you’re single, can be more than a day you need to survive. It can be a day to look forward to.

Collaborative law has evolved into a globally practiced
discipline, extending well beyond the realm of family law, and is used frequently in Seattle divorces.

Classifying January as divorce month could be misleading, given how some of the numbers tell a different story. However, one thing remains clear: January is a great time for a fresh start.

The law makes it easy for people to get out of bad marriages. Washington, like most states, acknowledges no-fault divorce. This means that if you want a court to dissolve your marriage, all you have to do is file for…

Prenups and postnups can strengthen a marriage, given how they require relationship partners to put their cards on the table for each other to see, offering transparency and peace of mind. Despite their similarities, there are a few significant differences between the two.

Child support is one of the most contentious issues in divorce cases where parties have minor children. Even though Washington state law uses the same complex mathematical formula to determine the amount of child support for each child, there is…

Family law and estate planning often intersect. This is particularly true when contemplating divorce, remarriage, or blending families.

At some point during your divorce case, friends and family members whose own marriages ended in divorce probably told you that it gets better, and it does. Of course, from your perspective, getting out of a bad marriage might be…

Co-parenting over a long distance when you are a non-residential parent does not have to equate to sacrificing involvement in your children’s lives. But it likely does mean you will have to make tweaks in your communication and parenting style to accommodate the new living arrangement.

Despite being divorced, you may still be able to collect social security benefits through your ex-spouse. Even if you went through a high-conflict divorce or are not on good terms with your ex-spouse currently, they cannot stop you from collecting these benefits if you are eligible. Likewise, your ex-spouse does not need to permit you to apply for social security benefits or have previously completed an application themselves.

If you live in Washington State and have an estranged family member, are you worried about them contesting your will after you die? Well, don’t worry quite yet. There are a variety of criteria an individual must meet to contest a will in the state of Washington.

Depending on your situation, there might also be measures you can take as you revisit your existing estate plan or create a new one to cause them to think twice about doing so. Here is what you need to know about whether an estranged family member can contest a will in Washington state.

When parents go through a divorce, child custody can be one of the hardest issues to deal with. But increasingly in American households, pets are part of the family, and separating can create similar concerns over who gets the family pet.