Knowing your marriage is headed for divorce can be one of the most stressful events in your life. Divorce is not only emotionally draining but can become time consuming and expensive if the case must proceed to litigation. If you are facing divorce, it is imperative you and your spouse consider pursuing a collaborate divorce to minimize the cost and allow a more harmonious ending to a marriage.
What is a Collaborative Divorce?
A collaborative divorce is a method of alternative dispute resolution under Illinois family law in which both spouses retain their own attorneys and attend a series of meetings to assist with negotiating a divorce settlement and avoid the expensive and lengthy process of litigation. Often, other professionals also attend the meetings to provide advice regarding specific issues involved in the divorce. These professionals could include an accountant, real estate broker, or child psychologist, and these persons must be unbiased and only provide information to assist with the negotiations.
Once the parties have reached a settlement agreement, the attorneys will draft all legal documents which need to be filed with the court. A judge will be appointed to the case and set a final hearing to review the relevant documents and determine whether the divorce should be granted. Once the judge signs the final order granting the divorce, the divorce proceedings are closed.
What are the Benefits of a Collaborative Divorce?
There are several benefits of using a collaborative divorce to avoid the traditional court process to resolve your divorce issues. These benefits include:
- Allows for honest and open communication between the parties.
- Saves time and money
- Protects the parties’ privacy by avoiding the court process.
- Allows the parties to determine how to handle any post-settlement disputes.
- Promotes a harmonious relationship between the parties by avoiding contention which typically arises when the divorce is contested and litigated.
- Allows the parties to look towards the future rather than focus on mistakes in the past.
What Happens If We Cannot Reach a Divorce Settlement Agreement?
Sometimes the parties will be able to agree on issues and disagree on other issues. An example is if both parties agree on the division of marital assets but do not agree on whether one spouse should receive alimony. Unfortunately, the parties will need to resolve any issues prior to having their divorce finalized. If an agreement cannot be reached, then the lawyers for each party will need to withdraw and the parties will need to start from square one and hire new lawyers to prepare the case for trial.
Once the case is filed with the court, the judge may order the parties mediate in order to resolve their disagreements. Mediation involves a neutral professional, known as a “mediator,” who tries to help the parties reach a settlement assisting the parties with communicating with one another. Any issues that are not resolved at mediation will then need to be tried.
Who Can Benefit from a Collaborative Divorce?
Collaborative divorce is a great tool to be used between spouses who will need to stay on good terms after the divorce because they will still be involved in each other’s lives. This is usually seen when the couple has children and want to co-parent for the best interest of their children.
While collaborative divorce is great for people with children, any couple could benefit from pursuing a collaborative divorce. People often find the process helpful with eliminating negativity, animosity, and drawn-out court battles.
How to Get Started
The first step to take when considering a collaborative divorce is to hire an experienced Illinois family law attorney. You will meet with your attorney to discuss the outcomes you want out of the divorce and issues you are not willing to negotiate. This will allow the attorney to ensure your best interest are protected.