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Resolving Disputes Through Collaborative Family Law in Oakbrook Terrace, IL

Husband and wife signing document with lawyer. Collaborative family law.

Many divorcing couples in Oakbrook Terrace, IL, turn to collaborative family law as an alternative to traditional litigation. Both parties have their own attorneys, and all four people sign an agreement that commits them to addressing disputes without litigation. The advantages of a collaborative divorce include more control over the process for both parties and more cooperation, especially if co-parenting is necessary going forward. The parties can also avoid the stress of litigation and finalize their divorce quicker.

Husband and wife signing document with lawyer. Collaborative family law.

What Is Collaborative Family Law?

Divorce is the main reason people use collaborative family law in Oakbrook Terrace, IL. However, it can apply in other family law matters, such as child custody and child support, that do not necessarily involve divorce. Whatever the issue at hand, the goal is to figure disputes out by working together. In a collaborative divorce:

  • The parties agree to use negotiation and cooperation versus litigation to reach a divorce settlement.
  • Lawyers sign the participation agreement, too. If these collaborative efforts fail, the lawyers might not be able to represent the parties during litigation. This gives the collaborative lawyers another incentive to do their best during collaborative proceedings.
  • The participation agreement requires the parties to negotiate in good faith toward a fair resolution both spouses can accept.
  • The parties and their lawyers meet at least a few times to work out the issues.
  • Third parties such as financial advisors, mental health professionals, or child specialists can help.

What Are the Benefits of Collaborative Family Law for Resolving Disputes in Illinois?

There are many benefits to using a collaborative process in family law. One of the biggest is having control over the outcome.


In traditional litigation, a judge has the final say. No matter how clear and well-documented a case is, a judge might see things differently. Going to court can mean a major setback if the judge’s decision does not go your way.


The spouses can be flexible and creative when addressing their issues. They have enough control over the process to come up with solutions that fit each family member. Meanwhile, traditional litigation is black and white. There really isn’t room for a judge to deliver tailored solutions.

Quicker and Less Stressful

Traditional litigation in Oakbrook Terrace, IL, can be expensive and emotionally draining. A litigated divorce can take years and put people’s lives on hold. It’s also tough to come back quickly from the strain of such a divorce. Conversely, a collaborative divorce is more streamlined.


Collaborative divorce can serve as a model for co-parents on how to address thorny issues for the sake of their children. Co-parents may learn how to communicate better with each other. They might understand where the other parent is coming from, if not necessarily agree with the parent’s perspective.


Traditional litigation means public court proceedings. Meanwhile, a collaborative divorce takes place in private settings. Also, the participation agreement typically stipulates that anything the parties say cannot be used against them later in litigation if the collaborative process fails.

How Does Collaborative Family Law Work?

A collaborative divorce and other collaborative family law processes are voluntary. For example, one party might speak to his or her attorney, who then suggests it to the other side. After doing research and discussing matters with their attorneys, both spouses might agree to proceed. In collaborative family law, there is an overarching commitment to working together and avoiding litigation.

The process requires true commitment to being transparent and negotiating in good faith. For instance, the participation agreement says that the parties should fully and voluntarily disclose pertinent information. If they fail to do this, it undermines the process and may eventually lead to litigation.

However, it can be difficult sometimes to voluntarily disclose information you would rather not share with your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Your attorney can help ground you and guide you through the process.

What Is the Role of Your Attorney During the Collaborative Divorce Process?

An uncontested divorce lawyer trained in collaborative matters can be a great person to have by your side. Your lawyer makes sure that a collaborative divorce makes sense for you.

Collaboration may not be a good idea in situations involving abuse of any kind or power imbalances. Similarly, a lack of trust or a high level of conflict may doom the process from the start. If one of the parties is focused on “winning,” collaboration may not be the best option, either.

Other important purposes your attorney serves include explaining your options and the outcomes of the various choices you have during the collaborative process. Many people go into divorce proceedings unsure of what they want and what they can do. Your attorney advocates on your behalf and represents your interests during negotiations, whether they are about dividing assets, calculating child support, or creating parenting plans.

Divorce involves a lot of paperwork. Your attorney stays on top of filing documents and meeting deadlines. Your attorney verifies that you understand the implications of any agreements you make. The goal is for you to be OK with your decisions years down the road.

Despite the nature of a collaborative approach to divorce, disputes may arise. When necessary, an attorney can involve mediators or financial professionals to find solutions. The work of a collaborative family law attorney is interdisciplinary and often requires cooperating with child specialists, mental health experts, and others.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Collaborative Family Law Attorney in Oakbrook Terrace, IL

Collaborative law attorneys undergo special training in collaborative divorce and other processes. They should be well-versed in communication techniques, such as active listening and consensus building, that help you express your concerns and identify your priorities.

For these reasons, one factor to consider when you choose an uncontested divorce lawyer for a collaborative split is this person’s training, certification, and history in collaborative divorce or the issue you want to resolve collaboratively. Other major factors to consider include these.

  • How well the attorney listens to your concerns and communicates with you. For a collaborative divorce, it is especially helpful that you and your attorney have a good rapport.
  • Success rate in collaborative divorces. Attorneys should be able to resolve most of their collaborative cases as intended.
  • The attorney’s resource network. Ask about the attorney’s access to child specialists and other professionals, and how and when the attorney uses them.
  • Fees and billing structures. Everything should be in writing, so there are no surprises later.
  • How the attorney deals with challenges. Ask attorneys to explain how they have handled issues such as a lack of disclosure, unrealistic expectations, or one party becoming angry.

Ask about your attorney’s expertise in a specific area you prioritize. For instance, if your main focus in the divorce is making sure you have joint custody of your children, talk with prospective attorneys about their history in child custody and collaborative cases.

How Your Attorney Can Help With Challenges of Collaborative Family Law in Illinois

Challenges can arise during collaborative family law processes. These challenges can include a spouse becoming angry, sad, or noncommunicative. One side may suspect that the other is hiding assets. Perhaps one spouse distrusts the motives of a therapist brought in to help, or a spouse seems to constantly sidestep tentative agreements.

Your attorney can help with these challenges in several ways. For instance, if you have a history of bowing down to what your spouse wants, your attorney can make sure you get to express your side and that your spouse hears your voice. Your attorney can help you prepare for discussions, keep talks focused on the issues at hand, and make sure that the agreements you reach are equitable.

Conversely, if you have a history of controlling your spouse and insisting on your way, your attorney can warn you when to back off and consider the other side’s perspective.

If you suspect your spouse is hiding assets, such as cryptocurrency, your attorney could bring in forensic accountants or other experts. They can scour many types of documents to track down problem areas. Official discovery is not typical in collaborative divorce, but your attorney can use formal processes to force your spouse to disclose all assets. Attorneys need to balance the collaborative process with protecting your rights and interests, even if that means another way forward may be necessary.

On occasion, the other party behaves unethically. These actions may mean the collaborative process is not successful. Depending on the terms of the participation agreement, your attorney might be able to represent you in litigation or help with the transition to a new attorney.

Uncontested divorce lawyer Denise Erlich is passionate about helping divorcing couples in the greater Chicagoland area transition to their new life as seamlessly as possible. Ms. Erlich patiently guides her clients through every step of the divorce process and provides clients with candid advice about their case and legal options, so they can make informed decisions about their future.

Years of Experience: More than 20 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: Illinois State Bar Association U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
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