Collaborative Divorce FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about Illinois Collaborative Divorce

Many people have questions about using the Collaborative Process in their divorce. The following questions are some of the most commonly asked questions. If you have questions about how the Collaborative Process might work in your case, reach out to any of our members. CLICK HERE to find a Collaborative Divorce Professional near you.

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

Collaborative Divorce can cost less – both financially and emotionally. By working things out in 4-way meetings with your lawyers, you avoid making multiple unnecessary court appearances.  You won’t have to pay your lawyer to issue discovery or subpoenas. You also won’t have to pay experts to testify in court. Your Collaborative Coach can help you side step some of the more painful conflicts that are often part of a traditional divorce. Of course, just like in any divorce, much of the cost of a Collaborative Family Law case depends on how quickly you and your spouse can reach an agreement. Your Collaborative Family Law professional is the best source for information about fees.

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

That all depends on you, your spouse, and your circumstances. Illinois does not have a waiting period between the time you file your divorce petition and the time a judge finalizes your divorce. 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 it will take 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 with your partner. Send him or her a link to this website. You could also meet with an Illinois collaborative professional who may be willing to provide additional information you can share with your spouse.

How does this divorce process focus on the future?

Divorce is both an ending and a beginning. The Collaborative Process helps each spouse anticipate their needs moving forward. If you have children, their future is probably your number one priority. And as a more respectful, dignified process, it helps families gently transition to the next stage of their lives.

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 to resolve their issues without any help. 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 understand your financial picture. All of this happens in an open forum. Collaborative divorce delivers some amazing benefits beyond just getting you divorced.

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.

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 Collaborative Divorce 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.

Why do our Collaborative Divorce Professionals have to withdraw if we can’t reach an agreement 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 is the difference between a Collaborative Divorce 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 mediator 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.

Do you have more questions about Illinois Collaborative Divorce? Let us know. We’d love to hear from you!

> Read testimonials about the Collaborative Divorce process.