Seven Things You Never Knew About Collaborative Divorce in Illinois
The divorce process can be one of the most stressful events of a family’s life. If you’re considering a Collaborative Divorce, here are seven things to consider when choosing a divorce option:
1. Collaborative Divorce is Effective
One of the most effective methods for resolving conflict in a divorce without resorting to potentially lengthy court litigation is the process of collaborative law. Not to be confused with mediation, collaborative law can be just as effective in helping each party come to an agreeable resolution. You may have complex issues to sort out during your divorce, including the division of marital property and business assets, child support and custody arrangements, alimony and retirement funds. An attorney with experience in collaborative law facilitates your case with other professionals to reach the best long-term solutions.
2. Collaborative Divorce Promotes Cooperation
It’s important for divorcing couples to retain a cooperative working relationship both during and after the divorce, especially if children are involved. The end of your marriage does not necessary mean the end of all contact with your ex-spouse. While it’s understandable that there can be tension and hard feelings after a divorce, dealing with your ex shouldn’t have to be miserable and collaborative law can help you keep things from getting out of control.
3. Collaborative Divorce Involves Several Professionals
Those who work in collaborative law seek to minimize these hard feelings by helping you work out your disagreements in detail. Each of you will have your own attorney to rely on for support and legal advice, as well as the protection of your rights when needed. Other professionals may be brought in during a collaborative divorce and can include:
These people are here to work for your best interests so your future interactions with your ex-spouse may be more agreeable.
4. Collaborative Divorce Requires Special Training
Collaborative law requires serious effort on the part of the attorney to ensure fairness, objectivity and privacy for the client. As such, lawyers who are trained in collaborative law are generally compassionate people with a genuine interest in helping their clients. Family law attorneys in Illinois who wish to provide this option for clients can be approved as a “fellow” by the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois’ board of directors. This includes 40 hours of formal mediation training, attendance of a two-day intensive training seminar on collaborative law by the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois, and hands-on mediation experience. Additionally, attorneys who are interested in becoming qualified as fellows in collaborative law must be members of good standing within their profession.
5. Collaborative Divorce Helps You Focus on the Big Picture
It is common for couples going through a divorce to argue over who will get the silverware or who will take the plasma TV. Collaborative law helps you set aside the issues that aren’t really important and focus on the big picture. This enables couples to make fair decisions on matters such as spousal maintenance, child custody and property division, which meet the needs of everyone involved.
6. You Can Withdraw at any Time
If, for any reason, you or your spouse should decide that a collaborative divorce is not for you, both of your attorneys and any professionals retained during the process are required to withdraw from the case. You would then need to start over with a different attorney and professionals to carry on with your divorce. A common reason for ending a collaborative divorce is if one or both parties decides to litigate, which may increase the cost of a divorce.
7. Collaborative Divorce is Not the Best Option for Everyone
A collaborative divorce has the potential to help any couple who are willing to set aside personal differences and treat each other with respect and understanding. However, there are some cases where collaborative law may not be the best option. These cases involve situations where there was substance abuse, alcoholism, emotional abuse or domestic violence during the marriage.
Denise Erlich, Erlich Law Office, www.erlichlegal.com