Collaborative Divorce in Illinois
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.
The couple may need to retain experts to help them resolve disputes and make decisions. For example, child specialists can advise on custody and child support issues; financial advisors can guide them through property settlements and alimony payments, and experts can value the property to be divided.
Unlike a litigated divorce, all issues in a collaborative divorce are resolved privately, including the division of property, alimony awards, and child custody and support. If, at some point, the spouses cannot reach an agreement, they can end the collaborative process and litigate the divorce instead.
Once the spouses have come to an agreement on all the pertinent issues, their attorneys will draw up a settlement agreement, which memorializes their agreements, and will submit the agreement to the Court. The Court approves the divorce, and the settlement agreement becomes a legally enforceable court order.
One major benefit of a collaborative divorce is that the spouses reach a mutually acceptable compromise. In a litigated divorce, the judge has ultimate authority over decisions such as property divisions and child custody, and may make a decision that is not acceptable to one or both spouses. However, in a collaborative divorce, both parties have agreed to the terms of the divorce, and thus are more likely to comply with those terms.
Additionally, collaborative divorce is less expensive than a litigated divorce. Because the spouses do not have to appear in Court during the negotiations, their court costs are lower. Additionally, there is no need for time-consuming and costly discovery, such as subpoenas or depositions. Collaborative divorce is generally much faster than litigated divorce, and the faster the spouses can reach a resolution, the less expensive the divorce will be.
Collaborative divorces are also usually much less stressful than litigation. The collaborative process fosters a non-adversarial environment of cooperation and respect. When the divorce process goes more smoothly, fewer ill feelings generally result, and children are more protected from contention and disputes.
If you are considering a divorce, the collaborative law process may be beneficial to you. Please call skilled Palatine collaborative law attorney Nicholas W. Richardson to schedule a free initial consultation.