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Collaborative Law

Kristyna M. LarchWhat is Collaborative law?

A voluntary dispute resolution process in which clients, attorneys, and non-attorney professionals, work together towards settlement. This is done in a respectful and dignified non-adversarial manner. The goal is to reach mutually beneficial resolution without resort to litigation.

Collaborative practice is:

  • Centered in interest based negotiations rather than positional negotiations.
  • A child-centered approach to marriage dissolution or legal separation.
  • A way for separating spouses or partners to transition to separate lives in a respectful, dignified, confidential manner.
  • A model where the individuals are "participants" not "parties" or "litigants".

It differs from the traditional litigation model in that:

  • It requires the separating individuals (the "participants") to be able to take responsibility for their conflict.
  • The participants must each be able to come to the table and participate directly, with appropriate professional support in managing and ultimately resolving their conflict.
  • Everything is done by negotiated agreement rather than through court appearances or contentious litigation between the attorneys or "parties".
  • The participants determine their separate futures with the assistance of specially trained professionals.


Individuals able to engage in this process often transform their relationship from one based in conflict (that often accompanies the break up of an intimate relationship) to good neighbors. Good neighbors are respectful and exhibit healthy boundaries. Collaborative participants work towards an amicable respectful partnership in which they have transitioned from an intimate relationship to a business relationship. Collaborative law also supports the maintenance of important personal relationships (parent-child, friends, extended family, community).

Transparency is paramount

The Collaborative model is not appropriate for individuals who wish to spend time and financial resources trying to hide information from the other. Both participants are required to provide and make available all documents necessary for the participants to fully and efficiently resolve all matters.

Collaborative Certification

Engaging in this process requires particularized support. This is why professionals must be Collaboratively certified. This is not a buzz word, this is a specialized process. The professionals engage in stringent minimum training requirements. They also participate in on-going education and team building.

Your Collaborative Team

Team approach. Your team may consist of only an attorney for each spouse/partner. It may also consist of a divorce coach, child specialist, and/or financial specialist. I can provide names for each of these roles. If you would like more information about these roles please visit my collaborative practice group's website. This is a unique decision to be made individually for each case. Using Collaborative non-attorney professionals can reduce the overall cost of divorce, legal separation, parentage case, or post-dissolution matters.

Role of your attorney. Your attorney remains your advocate in the Collaborative model. However, she/he is able to work in a more open manner with the attorney who is assisting your spouse/partner. This leads to efficiency in part because the attorneys share the goal of supporting the two of you in reaching a mutually beneficial outcome. I can provide referrals if your spouse or partner has not already selected an attorney.

My Collaborative Membership Organizations & Practice Groups

Why I support Collaborative practice

I am a strong believer in self-determination and understand the power of the law to shape our lives. There are many individuals for whom Collaboration best supports self-determination. Many people considering or faced with divorce, legal separation, or parentage actions (or post dissolution issues involving children) feel a complex range of emotions. Fear, hurt, anger, relief, anxiety, discomfort with the unknown, optimism, and distrust, are among them.

In addition to practicing Collaborative law, I have litigated. As part of my litigation practice I have continually supported "cooperative" litigation for my clients with both opposing attorneys and unrepresented opposing parties. Prior to law school, I worked on the King County Family Law Motions Calendar for the Commissioners. My mixed background provides me with a different perspective from many of my colleagues.

I have relationships with many Collaborative attorneys and non-attorney professionals within and without my Collaborative practice group. This helps ensure a team can be designed that will meet the participant's needs.

Feel free to contact my office to schedule a free 15 minute phone consultation to help determine whether Collaborative law is an option for you. This consultation is not for the purpose of providing legal advice, but for the sole purpose of answering questions about Collaborative law.