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Your lllinois Collaborative Divorce Attorney

What is the Role of the Lawyer in a Collaborative Divorce in Illinois?

The role of your attorney in a Collaborative case is somewhat different than a lawyer in a traditional, litigated divorce.

In a litigated divorce, your attorney is focused on fighting. S/he has to navigate the court system and fight with opposing counsel.

In a Collaborative Divorce, your attorney will be focused on helping you negotiate a settlement, rather than fight a battle. S/he will help educate you about the divorce process, and will help you navigate the legal issues that exist in your divorce.

Your lawyer’s responsibilities will include:

  • Advising you about the divorce process and the legal requirements in that process.
  • Helping you clarify and communicate effectively about your goals, interests and concerns.
  • Advocating for and with you in all stages of the collaborative divorce process.
  • Drafting all necessary legal documents.
  • Making sure your divorce is approved and finalized in court.

Your spouse will also have his/her own Collaborative Divorce attorney. However, unlike in a litigated case, your attorney and your spouse’s attorney won’t be battling with each other. Instead, they will be working with you and your spouse to create an agreement that meets both of your needs, and your kids’ needs as well.

Does My Lawyer Represent Me in Court?

Even though most of the Collaborative Process takes place outside of court, you cannot get divorced in Illinois without going to court at least once. Your Illinois Collaborative Divorce attorney will help you through that final hearing. (In Illinois, that hearing is called a prove-up.) However, if you and your spouse decide to abandon the Collaborative Process and litigate your divorce in court, you will have to get a new attorney. Your Illinois Collaborative Attorney can never represent either you or your spouse in that kind of an adversarial divorce proceeding.

During your prove-up both you and your attorney will need to appear in court. In most divorce cases only one spouse needs to appear for the prove up.  In Collaborative Divorce cases, both parties to the divorce typically appear in court for the prove-up if they can.

How Do I Work With My Attorney? How Do the Attorneys Work With Each Other?

Unlike in a litigated divorce, your Illinois Collaborative Attorney will not fight with your spouse’s attorney. That doesn’t mean that your attorney won’t be looking out for your best interests.  But achieving what is in your best interests does not necessarily require a battle.

Instead of arguing with your spouse’s attorney and attempting to get a judge to side with him/her, your Illinois Collaborative Attorney will focus on brainstorming creative solutions to your divorce problems.  S/he will try to resolve issues by negotiating respectfully with your spouse’s Collaborative attorney.

In “Collaborative Divorce: The Revolutionary New Way to Restructure Your Family, Resolve Legal Issues and Move on with Your Life”, Pauline Tesler and Peggy Thompsen put it this way:

Remember, your collaborative lawyer spends 100% of his or her time, energy and creativity helping you get to a settlement.

 

Take the time to find the best collaborative lawyer you can locate, and encourage your spouse to do the same. The best collaborative lawyers, in our experience, encourage their clients to take the long view and to work toward solutions that will work fifteen to twenty years later.

Content adapted with permission from Collaborative Divorce, by Pauline Tesler and Peggy Thompsen.

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