The Best Reason to Use Collaborative Divorce in Illinois
by Karen Covy
People choose to use collaborative divorce for a lot of reasons. It is more private than going to court. It costs less than going to trial. It provides you with more support than traditional litigation. It also preserves your relationship with your spouse so that you can co-parent together better after your divorce.
All of those are great reasons to use collaborative divorce instead of a traditional, litigated divorce. Now, in Illinois, there is yet another reason to use collaborative divorce that is perhaps even more compelling … control.
How is Control a New Reason to Use Collaborative Divorce?
It’s no secret that using the collaborative process gives you way more control over your divorce (both your actual divorce process as well as the ultimate outcome of your divorce) than traditional litigation. But, what makes using collaborative divorce in Illinois so much more compelling now is that Illinois divorce law is about to change dramatically.
After January 1, 2106, so many things will be different in Illinois divorce law that listing them all is well beyond the scope of this article. But, just so you get an idea of how radical the shift in the law is going to be, here are just a few highlights of the new Illinois divorce law.
What’s New in Illinois Divorce Law
The legislature has abolished all grounds for divorce except one: irreconcilable differences. From January 1, 2016 forward, any couple who has lived separate and apart for at least 6 months will be deemed to have irreconcilable differences sufficient to justify a divorce. What’s more, if the couple agrees, they will be able to get divorced without any separation period at all.
The law regarding property division in divorce has also changed. In the past, property was valued and divided as of the date of the divorce i.e. on the day that your divorce became final. It didn’t matter whether your case had been pending for three months or three years. Your property was divided based upon its value on the date you got divorced.
Now, property in divorce can be valued and divided as of the date of divorce, the date a court orders, or any date upon which you and your spouse agree.
Perhaps the most dramatic changes will be made in the area of children in divorce. For one thing, the concept of custody will be completely gone. In its place will be “parental responsibilities,” which include decision-making regarding a child’s education, health, religion, extra-curricular activities and parenting time.
From January 1, 2016 forward, instead of one party getting sole or joint custody of their child, a court will allocate the various parental responsibilities to one parent or the other, or to both of them. There will also no longer be a “residential custodian.” Instead, both parents will just have “parenting time” according to whatever schedule is set.
What These Changes Mean to You
These are just a few of the ways that Illinois divorce law will soon change. There are many, many more changes. How those changes will affect you and your divorce depends upon the facts and circumstances of your case. If you go to court, it will also depend upon how the judge in your case interprets and applies the new law.
That is the real reason why collaborative divorce is so much better to use right now than traditional litigation. It allows you to keep control over your case.
Given the newness of the law, and the fact that there are no appellate court cases interpreting that law yet, you have no idea what your trial judge will do with that law, or how the judge is likely to apply that law in your case. In short: if you want your day in court, you really can’t be sure what is going to happen.
The Beauty of the Collaborative Process
When you and your spouse use the collaborative process in your divorce, you, not a judge, decides what will happen in your divorce. You decide how your property will be divided. You decided what will happen with your kids. You decide how you will handle support.
Of course, even in collaborative cases you have to abide by the law. But you no longer have to argue about the law. You don’t have to worry about how a judge will interpret the law, or how the judge will apply the law in your case. By deciding your case yourselves, you keep the decisions in your divorce in your own hands, instead of leaving them up to the jduge.
When the law is new, and how it will be applied is uncertain, the smartest thing you can possibly do is to stay out of court as much as possible. If you want to maintain control over your life, your kids, your case, and your future, you need to make your own decisions. Collaborative divorce allows you to keep control. That, more than anything else, is the best reason to use collaborative divorce.
To read more by Karen Covy go to www.karencovy.com.