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:

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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. 

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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.

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collaborative divorce, Palatine Collaborative Law AttorneyDivorces 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.

Process

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.

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collaborative law, child custody, Palatine divorce attorney, Palatine family lawyerAs 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.

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