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divorce cases, alternative dispute resolution, collaborative divorce, Barrington family law attorney, collaborative law processDivorce does not have the best reputation for promoting civil and cooperative relationships between spouses. Traditional divorce actions pit the parties against each other in an adversarial process that does everything possible to limit — or completely cut off — direct contact. While this can make moving from the marriage easier, both emotionally and physically, the litigation model of standard divorce cases does not prepare the parties for working together over child custody, or allow them to have much a say in the terms of the divorce decree.

In recent years, the legal system has increasingly favored settling divorce cases in less contentious environments due to the practicalities of limited Court resources and also to facilitate a better outcome for the parties. This reduces the likelihood of needing to return to Court to settle additional issues.

A fairly new process in the alternative dispute resolution realm is collaborative divorce — mediation being the form with which most people are familiar— which was formalized into Illinois law this summer and will become effective January 1, 2018. Collaborative divorce is the least combative way to end a marriage, and in fact tries to give the parties a firm foundation for future interactions by teaching them more effective ways to communicate and cooperate.

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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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divorce mediation, collaborative law, Illinois divorce, family law, Filing for divorce is almost always a difficult and time-consuming process for all parties involved. When the parties cannot agree on various terms and conditions necessary to the finalization of the divorce, such as how to divide assets, child support, and child custody issues, emotions can get hot. The “traditional” divorce involves litigating the matter within the court system. The process of traditional litigation ultimately means that crucial decisions are made by a judge, and not by the individual parties. In addition, a litigated divorce is often more costly and time-consuming than one settled through other channels.

As a result of these challenges, many couples are now choosing to turn to mediation to settle the issues that accompany any divorce, including division of marital assets, benefits from pension funds, maintenance, issues regarding child support, custody, and visitation.

Divorce Mediation in Illinois

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Collaborative Law IMAGECollaboration 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.

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