Questions and Answers about Illinois Collaborative Divorce

Many people have questions about divorce and Collaborative Process. The following questions are commonly asked. Should you have more specific questions consider reaching out to any of our practitioner members. Feel free to use our Member Search option located on the CLII homepage to find the right professional.

Not finding what you need? Seeking additional information?
Contact us:
Holly Hickey, Administrative Manager
P.O. Box 30050
Elmwood Park, IL 60707

Does a Collaborative Divorce cost less than a traditional divorce or mediation?

It can be – both financially and emotionally.  By working things out in 4-way meetings with your lawyers, multiple court appearances are eliminated, as are some of the more painful conflicts that are often part of a traditional divorce. This process eliminates the need for multiple experts to prepare documents and exhibits for use in court, or to conduct depositions and issue subpoenas.  By definition, a collaborative divorce is what divorce lawyers refer to as an “uncontested divorce.”  Much of the cost of a collaborative family law case depends on how quickly you and your spouse can reach an agreement on all issues. Your collaborative family law professional is the best source for information about fees.

How long does a Collaborative Divorce take from beginning to end?

Illinois does not have a waiting period after the filing of a petition for dissolution of marriage until a divorce can be finalized.  This is because the 90 day provision in Illinois law for residence can be measured as 90 days before the commencement of the proceeding (the filing of the divorce case). Because of this many Illinois collaborative lawyers do not initially file divorce proceedings but wait until after the settlement agreement has been reached. The amount of time to gather and understand information, as well as brainstorm options that will meet the needs of the family, varies from case to case. Generally, the collaborative process is far quicker than traditional adversarial divorce.

How do I get my partner to agree to the Collaborative Divorce process?

We suggest discussing what you have learned about the collaborative process. Send him or her a link to this website. You could also meet with a collaborative professional who may be willing to provide additional information for you to share.

How does this divorce process focus on the future?

Divorce is both an ending and a beginning. Collaborative Practice helps each spouse anticipate their needs in moving forward. When children are involved, their future becomes a number one priority. And as a more respectful, dignified process, it helps families gently transition to the next stage of their lives.

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Why can’t the two of us just sit down and work out our divorce?

You can always try. But in our experience most clients simply find it too difficult. Collaborative Law takes your willingness to sit down and talk and applies it to a well thought-out process designed to bring you success. In turn, both of you reap benefits – for yourselves, your children, and often, your pocket books. Plus, you learn communication skills, reach obtainable goals, and walk away knowing your assets and liabilities…all in an open forum. Collaborative Law delivers some amazing benefits beyond the resolution and granting of a divorce.

My Spouse and I are planning to get a divorce without lawyers because we believe the lawyers will turn it into a battle. Why would we want a Collaborative Divorce?

We need to stress that creating disagreements where there are none is in direct opposition to the goals of collaborative law. Collaborative attorneys are here to educate and advise you in reaching fully informed agreements. Your desire to do so without a battle is commendable and we fully support that.

But even couples who want a peaceful divorce often find themselves struggling – not necessarily fighting – about issues surrounding children, allocation of income, and division of assets. Collaborative professionals can guide you through those discussions and help you more efficiently reach resolution. Using the services of a collaborative lawyer also may reduce the likelihood of returning to court because your initial do-it-yourself agreement was incomplete, or created unintended consequences.

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What if my spouse chooses a divorce lawyer who isn’t a member of the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois?

For this process to work, it’s essential that each party’s lawyer understands and is committed to the principles of collaboration and has signed a collaborative agreement.

There are special skills collaborative lawyers must obtain – skills in guiding negotiations and in managing conflict. Members of the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois have formal training in collaborative law and support public education, improved standards of practice, and training for professionals throughout their membership. A lawyer who doesn’t practice collaborative law often can work cooperatively with a lawyer who does, but then your case is not considered collaborative and the threat of litigation remains.

My spouse has already filed papers with the Court. Can we still choose the Collaborative process to get our divorce?

Yes. Even though an action already may have been filed, you and your spouse may begin the collaborative process by signing the Participation Agreement for Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois. Contact a collaborative professional in order to fully discuss your options.

I am convinced a Collaborative Divorce is right for me, but I don’t believe my spouse would be a good participant. Can we still have a Collaborative Divorce?

It depends. Collaborative divorce is not for everyone. It may not be appropriate in cases involving extreme domestic violence or extreme mental illness. Contact a collaborative professional to discuss your specific concerns.

How are different opinions of the value of an asset resolved in the divorce?

Through a skilled, neutral expert – retained jointly. This is a refreshing alternative to the litigation model, in which each side gets their “hired gun” to testify and the court has to decide. They’re not motivated by trying to ‘get more’ for their client. They’re working to get the most for everyone involved.

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Why is it necessary for the Collaborative Professionals to withdraw if an agreement is not reached in our divorce?

The collaborative professionals withdraw if an agreement cannot be reached because litigation is very different from collaboration. In the collaborative process the attorneys join with you and your spouse to work toward the best outcome for everyone involved. The open exchange of information gives the Collaborative attorneys insights and information that might not be available in litigation.

Now consider if either of you had to worry that your spouse’s attorney may someday be able to use the information you have openly shared as part of a cross-examination in litigation. That would undermine the feelings of safety and the ability to engage in full disclosure that must be fostered in the collaborative process.

If an agreement cannot be reached collaboratively, the shift to litigation attorneys enables the parties to adjust to a litigation mindset with new faces, procedures and goals.

What counties in Illinois currently have Collaborative professionals?

There are collaborative divorce professionals in many Illinois counties, including:

  • Boone County
  • Champaign County
  • Cook County
  • DeKalb County
  • DuPage County
  • Grundy County
  • Kane County
  • Kendall County
  • Lake County
  • McHenry County
  • McLean County
  • Ogle County
  • Sangamon County
  • Stephenson County
  • Will County
  • Winnebago County

If your county is not listed, keep in mind that collaborative divorce is growing in Illinois, and often collaborative lawyers will travel to nearby counties. In virtually all of these counties there are collaborative lawyers, collaborative coaches, collaborative financial professionals and child specialists.

What is the difference between collaborative practice and mediation?

Most collaborative divorce lawyers and their allied professionals in Illinois are trained in mediation.  Many provide mediation services.  The mediator cannot give either of you legal advice or be an advocate for either side. If there are lawyers for each of you, generally the medator is not present during the mediation sessions, but you can consult them between mediation sessions.  In Illinois it is generally considered unethical for a mediator to draft the documents necessary for a couple to obtain a divorce.

A Collaborative Divorce allows you both to have lawyers present during the negotiation process to keep settlement as the top priority. The lawyers, whose training is similar to mediators, work with their clients and one another to assure a balanced process that’s positive and productive. When there is agreement, a document is drafted by the lawyers, and reviewed and edited by you both until everyone is satisfied.  Your choice of mediation or Collaborative practice should be made with professional advice.

Read testimonials about the Collaborative Divorce process.

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