You Have Options. You Choose.
- Preservation of integrity and respect;
- Greater control over the process and outcome of your divorce while protecting your privacy rather than revealing intimate matters in the public record;
- The opportunity to preserve and sustain a healthy co-parenting relationship that meets the children’s needs rather than having them caught in the middle;
- The probability of reducing stress and animosity rather than nurturing anger and hostility;
- It focuses on empowering the parties to make their own decisions about their futures without court intervention;
- Provides a forum for the facilitation and development of effective communication & negotiation skills rather than play the “blame game”;
- Identifies and addresses interests and concerns and provides a means for achieving an agreement reflective of everyone’s needs rather than winning at all costs;
- A focus on the future;
- It allows for resolution with preservation of the positive aspects of the relationships rather than denying or destroying them; and,
- Accomplishes this life transition in a civil and dignified manner.
- OR, in the alternative, YOU CHOOSE TO DO BATTLE & YOU LET SOMEONE ELSE (THE JUDGE & THE COURT) CHOOSE FOR YOU.
You have options as you proceed with your dissolution of marriage (divorce). A successful resolution, defined here as one that preserves the integrity of the co-parenting relationship and allows both parties to move forward with hope, dignity and respect, has much to do with the divorces process you and your spouse choose to utilize. Choosing the collaborative process, mediation or an uncontested method of divorce allows you to address your goals and concerns and create a mutually beneficial outcome. You will be satisfied if you have input in the outcome of your case, as opposed to pursuing litigation, and allowing a judge and the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution Act dictate your settlement.
Collaborative Divorce is a non-adversarial approach to divorce. The parties and their respective attorneys utilize the agreed upon method of dissolving your marriage, dividing your assets and managing your children without going to court. This process stresses cooperation over confrontation and resolution over revenge.
The Collaborative Method
The Collaborative Method of divorce offers just that, an effective, dignified and highly strategic solution to one of life’s most complex and emotionally charged situations.
Collaborative divorce is a non-adversarial approach to divorce or divorce without court involvement and litigation. It is a method in which couples agree, together with their attorneys, to focus their efforts on civilly dissolving their marriage, cooperatively parenting their children and managing and dividing their assets without court intervention. The process stresses cooperation over confrontation and resolution over revenge.
Collaborative Divorce focuses on the future with its respectful, integrity – based conflict resolution and its emphasis on valuing relationships. Trust is a cornerstone of this process. When couples embrace the Collaborative Divorce process, and make full use of its resources for deep resolution of conflict, planning for the future, and the protection of relationships during a challenging life transition, a positive difference in the quality of their lives after the divorce, is ultimately realized.
How The Collaborative Method Works
- Retaining attorneys - in the Collaborative process, you and your spouse agree and hire attorneys that have been trained in the Collaborative process.
- Making a commitment and getting started - During your initial meeting you, the team will sign off on a Participation Agreement which spells out the rules for the proceeding, as well as the commitment made by all of the parties to the proceeding. The Participation Agreement states that you will work together respectfully, honestly and in good faith to resolve issues and reach agreements beneficial to everyone involved.
- Building the Team - At this point, or even earlier, incorporating a coach or two may be suggested. Coaches and mental health professionals assist the parties to manage and reduce the emotional tension communication and generate creative alternatives. A neutral financial expert may be utilized and desired to address financial goals and concerns.
- Negotiating a Settlement/Gathering and Exchanging Information - A series of private meetings, (4, 5 or 6-ways), designed to assist in problem solving and creative resolution by actively engaging the parties in settlement conversations. While each attorney is an advocate for his or her client, both ensure that all voices are heard and all needs are addressed.
- Moving Forward & Getting a “Final” Divorce Decree - Once agreements have been reached, the attorneys create legally-binding documents and file them with the court.
The Collaborative Team
The goal of a collaborative team is assisting couples in reaching fair and equitable agreements. Reasonable, workable and fair options will generated with a focus on the future.
Collaborative Lawyer - Each party is represented by an attorney. The collaborative law practice and lawyers trained and practicing in this area commit to resolution without court intervention.
Divorce Coach - Coaching is collaborative. A Divorce Coach does not play the clinical role of a therapist or counselor. Instead, he or she works with individuals or couples going through a divorce and assists them with communication, goal setting, goal achievement, decision making, establishing structure, identifying support systems, prioritizing tasks, setting realistic expectations and life transitions issues.
Financial Specialist - A Divorce Financial Neutral is retained to collect and perform a full review of all relevant financial information including but not limited to personal and marital property, retirement and pension funds, business interests, real-estate, support and taxes liabilities. The professional guidance a financial neutral assists the parties, as well as the team, in gaining a comprehensive understanding of the party’s estate.
Child Specialist - A Child Specialist plays a critical role in divorce situations. Children may suffer the most form divorce, and be least able to understand or express their feelings. They help assess children’s needs; assisting them in expressing their feelings and concerns about the divorce; develop a parenting plan suited to the need and best interests of the children, distinguish the parental needs from those needs of the children.
A goal of the Collaborative Law Practice is to assure that children are a priority, not a casualty.
How Collaborative Practice Differs from Traditional Divorce
The presumption that opposing parties with equal access to information freely negotiate on a level playing field.
Formalities - The formal steps in a divorce proceeding, (preparing, serving and filing the Summons and Petition and the Appearance, Answer and Counter-Petition), are either waived or postponed in a collaborative proceeding.
Control - In a collaborative proceeding, you and your spouse control the timing and outcome of the process and make the final decision without court intervention. In a traditional case, the Judge is in control of your outcome.
Degree of Adversity - In a collaborative proceeding, you and your spouse pledge mutual respect and open communication. It involves a “paradigm shift” for the professionals (away from warring and attack and toward cooperation and problem solving), an oxymoron for attorneys.
Cost - In a traditional divorce proceeding, costs are unpredictable can escalate rapidly with repeated visits to the courthouse. In the Collaborative Process costs are generally more manageable and typically less expensive than litigation.
Use of Team/Outide Experts - In the collaborative process jointly retained specialists provide guidance and information and assist with the development of mutually beneficial solutions. In a traditional divorce proceeding separate experts are retained by the parties to support each litigants’ position.
Lawyer's Role - In the collaborative process your lawyers work toward the creation of a mutually beneficial settlement. In a traditional divorce proceeding the lawyers fight to win and advocate for one position.
Privacy - In the collaborative process, details and discussions are kept confidential. In a traditional divorce proceeding details, discussions and disputes may become a matter of public record.
Communication - In the collaborative process, you and your spouse communicate directly with one-another and with your team. In a traditional divorce proceeding you and your spouse negotiate through your attorneys.
Nature - The collaborative process is entered into voluntarily by the parties. Litigation requires mandatory participation.
A divorce is uncontested when both parties seeking to terminate their marriage agree on all terms related to parenting their children, division of assets, real estate, retirement accounts, debt and support. This does not necessarily mean that the divorce is amicable, but merely that all issues between the parties can be resolved by them. Generally, an attorney is retained by one of the parties in this process to draft and prepare all of the necessary court documentation. It is recommended, but not required, that at second attorney be retained for the purpose of reviewing the documents and providing legal advice, as it pertains to the process and documents. An attorney can only represent one individual to a proceeding.
Divorce Mediation provides couples with a safe and neutral forum for resolution of issues and concerns. It is a process whereby couples discuss, negotiate, compromise and hopefully resolve their issues relating to the divorce with a neutral facilitator. The neutral facilitator may be an attorney, a psychologist, social worker, accountant or financial professional. Regardless of the professional designation of the mediator, that person can not provide legal or financial advice or therapy but rather is hired to assist the parties in facilitating communication, problem solving and in reaching agreement. The mediator will issue a Memorandum of Understanding outlining the parties agreements and at that time, if not before, they present to them to their respective attorneys for review and final drafting. It is highly advisable for both parties to have their own attorneys and to consult with them as the process is taking place.
Every divorce is unique. Each couple has different expectations, goals and desires, and challenges. As a result, carefully selected teams will be established to meet, assist and resolve each pressing matters.
Although there are numerous advantages to the collaborative process of divorce, there are times when the parties have very different views and opinions of how matters should be resolved. In these cases, the collaborative process is not the best option and the terms of the divorce are settled by way of litigation, in court. Each party retains an attorney to advocate for its individual interests.