If 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....
Divorce 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....
Divorces are often contentious proceedings. Disputes regarding important issues such as property division, child custody and support payments can be exacerbated by the litigation process. Collaborative divorce, however, is an alternative to a traditional litigated divorce. In a collaborative divorce, the spouses do not go to Court to resolve issues. Instead, with the help of a lawyer trained in collaborative law, the spouses come to an agreement with each other about the terms of the divorce. Then they go to Court to finalize the dissolution.
In Illinois, no statutes govern the collaborative divorce process. In a collaborative divorce, each spouse retains his or her own lawyer. The spouses agree to work together in good faith to resolve the issues associated with their divorce and to honestly disclose all pertinent information. They meet together, with their lawyers, to discuss the issues and reach an agreement....
As discussed previously, collaborative law is a form of alternative dispute resolution that allows parties going through a divorce or child custody issue to attempt to come to a mutually agreeable solution. It sounds similar to mediation, but the two are not exactly the same.
In mediation, the parties meet outside of Court in an attempt to reach a mutually agreeable resolution of the contested issues, just as in the collaborative law process. The difference is that in mediation, pleadings, motions and other filings have been submitted to the Court, the parties have been (or are scheduled to be) deposed, and there have been Court hearings. Mediation, then, is an attempt to resolve the issues before the proceedings get any more contentious and adversarial.
In collaborative law, coming to an agreement before entering the Courthouse is the goal. When the parties use the collaborative law process, they bypass Court's initial involvement; there are no pleadings, no Court hearings; and hopefully, if the process works as planned, there is only a single hearing once an agreement has been reached for the Judge to approve the agreement and finalize the divorce. At the outset, the parties agree that they do not want the process to be contentious or adversarial....
Collaboration during a hotly contested issue is often difficult for the parties involved, but the rewards can be greater because the parties reach a mutual resolution together. Collaborative law is a form of alternative dispute resolution. Regardless of the situation in which you find yourself, this method of dispute resolution is an option that should always be considered.
How it Works
Collaborative law is not about taking sides. Typically, these negotiations see the conflicted parties negotiating with each other to reach a mutually beneficial outcome. As this is a voluntary process, the parties must agree to pursue this form of dispute resolution, but the benefits of doing so include a reduction in the amount of money spent on the conflict, and a reduction in the time necessary to reach the desired resolution....