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palatine divorce lawyerTo get divorced in Illinois, spouses must address multiple financial, legal, and logistical issues. If the spouses can agree on how to handle these issues, they can avoid the timely, costly, and stressful divorce litigation process. However, reaching an informed decision about property division, child custody, and other divorce issues is very difficult to do without help. Fortunately, Illinois spouses have the option of ending their marriage through collaborative law. Collaborative divorce is an alternative resolution method that offers numerous benefits for divorcing spouses and their children. One of the key elements in a collaborative divorce is the “participation agreement” or “collaborative agreement.”

Understanding Participation Agreements in a Collaborative Divorce

As the name implies, collaborative divorce is a collaborative process. The spouses and their lawyers seek to resolve divorce issues cooperatively, without the hostility that exists in many litigated divorce cases. To ensure that everyone in the collaborative divorce process understands and agrees to the terms of the resolution process, each participant is asked to sign a participation agreement. The spouses, their attorneys, accountants, appraisers, child specialists, and others involved in the collaborative process agree to these terms.

Each collaborative divorce is different, but many participation agreements include promises to:


b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1027563316-min.jpgWhen divorcing couples share children, they have a much greater number of decisions to make than couples without children. Furthermore, the consequences of these decisions can impact their families for years after the split. Deciding how to distribute parental responsibilities and parenting time can quickly become contentious – especially if the parents disagree about what is best for the children. Collaborative divorce is an alternative resolution method that may help divorcing parents make informed choices about child custody issues, property division, and other divorce concerns without needing to go to Court.

Collaborative Law is a Cooperative Process

Understandably, many divorcing spouses struggle to communicate effectively during the divorce process. Many harbor resentments and hurts from the past that inhibit their ability to discuss divorce issues in a productive manner. During a collaborative divorce, the spouses sign an agreement promising to negotiate in good faith and freely provide any necessary documentation or information. They agree to put resentments aside, cooperate, and find practical solutions to the unresolved divorce issues. Learning how to cooperate during the divorce can help parents learn the skills needed to cooperate in their post-divorce, co-parenting relationship.

Spouses Are More Likely to Stick to Decisions They Made Themselves

When a divorce or child custody dispute is resolved through the Court, the spouses have little say over the Judge’s decision. During a collaborative divorce, the couples reach their own conclusions. Parents may be more likely to stick with decisions and plans they reached together than decisions handed down by a Judge. Parents can also include information in their Parenting Plan about how to handle any future disputes or modifications to the Parenting Plan. This can help parents avoid legal disputes over parenting time, relocations, or other child-related issues in the future.


Hoffman Estates collaborative law attorneyWhen exploring your options for splitting up with your spouse, the idea of a traditional litigated divorce can be daunting to some people. In truth, there are actually very few divorces that make it to an actual trial. Most divorces in today’s world have some degree of cooperation throughout the process. When a couple cannot agree, however, litigation can be one of your only options -- aside from collaborative divorce. Both types of divorces can offer different benefits to different families, which is why you should discuss your situation with an Illinois divorce attorney before making any decisions.

Defining Collaborative Divorce

Many people have never heard of a collaborative divorce, or they may have heard about it, but do not actually know what it is. A collaborative divorce is an alternative to traditional divorce litigation that allows a couple to complete their divorce without having to go to court. In many cases, collaborative divorces are used during contested divorce cases that would otherwise result in a legal battle. Instead of spending multiple sessions in a courtroom just to have a judge decide your fate, a collaborative divorce takes place during meetings between you, your spouse, and both of your attorneys. Collaborative divorces may also involve various professionals from different fields who can provide guidance and advice on specific issues throughout the process.

Benefits of Utilizing a Collaborative Divorce

Many couples have found that there are a variety of benefits and reasons to use the collaborative divorce process, rather than litigation -- especially if there is disagreement or contention between the couple. Some of the most advantageous reason to choose a collaborative divorce include:


Hoffman Estates family law attorney for collaborative divorceIf you are considering divorce, you have likely imagined lengthy legal battles and contentious disputes with your ex-spouse during the process. However, divorce does not have to be this way. Collaborative law is a very effective alternative to litigation in court when trying to finalize the terms of a divorce. Collaborative divorce functions as a middle ground between mediation, in which both parties are very amicable and cooperative, and litigation, where things can become fairly hostile as disputes are argued in court in front of a judge.

What Is Collaborative Divorce?

During a collaborative divorce, both sides will work together with their respective attorneys to try to resolve all outstanding disputes or legal issues, such as custody of children or division of marital property. In a collaborative divorce, the attorneys for both sides attempt to come to an agreement that is satisfactory for all involved, unlike litigation, in which one side typically wins and one loses. Collaborative divorce places the needs of the couple, and the entire family, front and center. By working together to reach a settlement, a couple can eliminate uncertainty over what a judge will decide, and both parties will have much more control over the outcome.

How Much Does Collaborative Divorce Cost?

There is no single answer to the question of how much any divorce will cost, whether litigation, mediation or collaborative law is used to resolve disputes. However, collaborative law is often much more affordable than litigation. In a collaborative divorce, experts do not need to testify in court, you will not need to attend multiple court hearings, and you can avoid paying filing fees for petitions or subpoenas. Ultimately, the cost of a collaborative divorce will depend on how long it takes for you and your spouse to come to an agreement on the outstanding issues. Generally speaking though, a collaborative divorce is less costly than litigation.


Hoffman estates collaborative divorce attorneyDivorce may be the best thing for a couple in the long-term, but in the short-term, it tends to release a stream of negative emotions, and bitter Court battles will likely increase the level of conflict. Divorce cases, particularly high-conflict ones, can greatly complicate settling outstanding issues, make it more difficult to move on emotionally and physically, and negatively impact a child’s relationship with one or both parents. While litigation is the traditional way to seek divorce, other options are available that are less confrontational and are designed to help couples find common ground, allowing them to resolve their disagreements privately and without Court intervention.

The newest divorce method endorsed by the Illinois legislature is the collaborative law process, and a law governing how it applies to divorce and family law cases went into effect at the beginning of 2018. This non-adversarial approach allows spouses to preserve a working relationship and implement better communication strategies that they can use going into future interactions after their divorce. The format and process of collaborative divorce is quite different than litigated divorce, and it can be a good option for couples seeking an alternative that promotes compromise when addressing how to resolve differences.

The Collaborative Process

Collaborative divorce is an alternative dispute resolution method that starts with both spouses and their attorneys signing a participation agreement in which they agree to make a good faith effort to settle their divorce without Court intervention and promise to freely share information. In addition, the parties must also recognize that if the collaborative process is terminated for any reason, their collaborative law attorneys will be disqualified from representing either client in future litigation.


Introducing The Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson

Nicholas W. Richardson is an experienced divorce lawyer and mediator whose comprehensive legal knowledge, commitment to clients and reputation for results bring lasting solutions to your problems.

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