Understanding Illinois’ New Collaborative Divorce Law
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.
In addition to the attorneys who represent each spouse during collaborative divorce, the collaborative process frequently involves specially trained and skilled professionals in mental health, child development (used when complex parenting issues are present), and finances. Guidance and support are provided by these professionals as the couple works through their outstanding issues, and the spouses, not a judge, have the ultimate say over the terms and conditions of their divorce settlement. This approach allows families to take full account of their unique dynamics, and it works against the impulsive decisions and power struggles that often come with traditional divorce.
Benefits Over Litigation
Collaborative divorce, while aiming towards the same goal as litigation – dissolution of a marriage – can offer families a number of benefits unavailable in the courtroom setting. First, as noted above, the spouses retain control over the outcome, which makes it less likely that post-divorce litigation will be needed to work out any additional disagreements.
Further, collaborative divorce is private and confidential, and it allows a family to avoid having their divorce disputes become part of the public record. Collaborative divorce can also be more cost effective than litigation if the parties are motivated and committed to compromising and working together.
Finally, an alternative dispute resolution option is typically faster than litigation, because it can take months before a court can schedule a hearing, and if spouses are contentious and file numerous motions throughout the process, the time to reach a final divorce judgment could be considerably longer. Collaborative divorce may be particularly useful for couples seeking to minimize conflict while agreeing to be flexible and compromise in the resolution of their outstanding legal issues.
Get Help From a Schaumburg Family Law Attorney
If you are considering divorce but do not want the difficult emotions and conflict of litigation, talk to a divorce attorney familiar with other methods of resolving family law disputes. Dedicated Mt. Prospect collaborative divorce lawyer Nicholas W. Richardson is trained in mediation, negotiation, and collaborative law, and he can offer you less adversarial alternatives to litigating your divorce in the courtroom. Contact our law firm today at 847.873.6741 for a free initial consultation.