Call Us for a Consultation

Our Blog

What Is a Collaborative Divorce in Oakbrook Terrace, IL?

Woman remove the wedding ring on wooden table. What is a collaborative divorce

What is a collaborative divorce? Collaborative divorce is an alternative to litigated divorce. Two of the main features of collaborative divorce are an agreement to resolve all issues openly and respectfully outside of court, and each party having a trained collaborative divorce attorney. The process in Oakbrook Terrace, IL, can save both parties a lot of time and stress. It avoids invasive discovery and hostile depositions that can be emotionally harmful and hurt a co-parenting relationship.

Woman remove the wedding ring on wooden table. What is a collaborative divorce

The Process of Collaborative Divorce in Illinois

Collaborative divorce is not quite the same thing as a typical uncontested divorce. For example, the collaborative divorce process involves systems with certain processes.

Differences Between Collaborative Divorce and Traditional Litigation

Collaborative divorce differs from traditional litigation in many ways. Here are some of the top ways, both obvious and more subtle.

  • The parties agree to try the collaborative process and sign a legally binding participation agreement.
  • The process is private, as opposed to the public nature of a trial. It focuses on any children’s needs and interests, as well as each spouse’s needs and interests (as opposed to rights or entitlements).
  • It often involves professionals such as collaborative divorce attorneys, divorce coaches, financial planners, and family specialists.
  • In a series of meetings, the collaborative divorce attorneys and others use a structured approach to guide the parties through the process. Once the parties reach their marital settlement agreement, the case is filed with the court.

With a collaborative divorce in Oakbrook Terrace, IL, you can proceed at your pace rather than according to the court’s timeline. You can save money, stress, and time, and find creative solutions to the issues.

Meanwhile, a typical litigated divorce can take many months or even years. It can be one of the most stressful events of a person’s life and involve numerous motions, petitions, arguments, and public testimony.

In litigation, a judge may decide the issues in a way that satisfies neither party and that may actually hurt them both. Attorneys use case law to argue the parties’ sides, have limited options for creativity, and have little or no flexibility to focus on whether certain solutions are best for the parties.

What Is the Role of Attorneys in Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative divorce attorneys for each party strive for a nonadversarial environment in which both parties can talk through their issues and resolve them. The team creates a list of issues to address, and attorneys ensure each issue gets ample time.

Attorneys who represent the parties in a collaborative divorce generally are not allowed to represent them in a litigated divorce if the collaborative process fails. This motivates the attorneys to help the parties reach a consensus.

What Are the Benefits of Collaborative Divorce in Illinois?

A collaborative divorce is not for everyone, but it has many benefits, such as:

Preservation of Relationships

Collaborative divorce can reduce misunderstandings and encourage creative solutions based on each party’s needs and interests. It can preserve a good co-parenting relationship that truly focuses on the best interests of the children. The professionals involved are neutral and do not take sides.

The process, while fairly structured, is less adversarial (or not adversarial at all). The focus is on big-picture solutions rather than short-term wins or “Aha! Got you!” moments.

The process is also confidential, so the spouses do not need to worry about their business airing in public. This can be good for preserving relationships with a variety of people. Just as importantly, the process does not encourage getting friends and family members involved. Being able to preserve these ties helps the parties maintain a support network that helps them get through the divorce.

Minimization of Conflict and Stress

Courtroom battles can lead to conflict and stress. Collaborative divorce skips these battles in favor of open and respectful dialogue that focuses on solutions and not on blame. The parties have better odds of experiencing lower levels of stress, conflict, and hostility.

The condensed timeline of a collaborative divorce vs. traditional litigation also ends the divorce process relatively quickly. The parties can begin to move on with their lives sooner.

An uncontested divorce can take can be a few weeks to a few months. A collaborative divorce can follow a similar timeframe, or maybe one that takes a bit longer, depending on the issues involved and the parties’ approach.

However, what happens at a court hearing for an uncontested divorce can be the same as what happens at the final court hearing for a collaborative divorce. The atmosphere can be amicable, if a bit businesslike, and the judge may touch on a few formalities before issuing the final divorce decree.

Customized and Mutually Satisfying Solutions

Traditional litigation often leads to one-size-fits-all results. Conversely, the collaborative process urges agreements that fit unique circumstances, whether the issues are parenting plans, asset division, or spousal support. The long-term perspective that collaborative divorce takes also means that agreements can hold up well over time.

Privacy and Confidentiality Advantages

Collaborative divorce sessions are private. They typically take place at lawyers’ offices or in a professional setting. It is not like a courtroom setting where business is aired in public and most people can view court records. No one has to file personal or financial details with the court, either. Any discussions, negotiations, or details the parties share are not admissible in court, which facilitates more honest discussions.

Professionals, such as child specialists, must follow confidentiality agreements. They do not disclose sensitive matters outside the divorce process.

Collaborative Divorce vs. Mediation in Oakbrook Terrace, IL

Collaborative divorce and mediation are both alternative dispute resolution processes that avoid traditional litigation and focus on customized solutions. They share key differences, though. For example, lawyers and various specialists often participate in the collaborative process. In contrast, mediation may or may not involve attorneys, and a mediator facilitates discussion but does not represent either party.

Participation Agreement in Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative divorces involve participation agreements that the parties and their lawyers sign.

Components of a Participation Agreement

Common components of a participation agreement in Oakbrook Terrace, IL, include these.

  • Introduction: Names the parties and that they intend to use the collaborative process to privately and settle their issues. The attorneys and who they represent are named. This section also provides a brief overview of the collaborative process and its principles such as honesty, civility, and a focus on the future well-being of everyone.
  • No litigation: This section clarifies that the parties won’t prepare or file pleadings or motions. If they do, the collaborative process ends right away. This aspect of the agreement also verifies that the spouses understand their attorney is limited to the collaborative process and cannot represent them in a contested divorce if the split goes that route.
  • Full disclosure: This section verifies that the parties will fully disclose all important information, even if it is not directly requested. The parties give up their right to use certain procedures and methods they could use in litigation and trust each other to make a fair and full disclosure of assets, income, debts, and other information. The collaborative agreement will be terminated if one of the parties withholds information, even if it is not “relevant” per se.
  • Participation with integrity: This part tells the parties not to take advantage of mistakes or miscalculations. It urges privacy and dignity.
  • Communication: This section touches on the commitment to regular meetings and doing any assigned homework for the meetings. The tone of communication, both written and verbal, should be constructive and respectful. The focus of communication will be on issues to resolve, rather than problems that contributed to the divorce.
  • Preservation of the status quo: This aspect has the parties agree not to sell, transfer, conceal, assign, or change/dispose of both separate and marital property without the other’s written consent. There are exceptions for typical household expenses and expenses consistent with past behavior. The parties also can’t change or cancel any insurance policies without the other’s written consent or take on debts out of the norm.

A children’s issues section generally talks about not discussing settlement issues in front of the children or asking the children about what is going on at the other parent’s residence. It strives to keep children out of the middle and facilitates reasonable access to the children for both parents.

Other issues touched on include communication without interruption or criticism, no pressuring the other outside the meetings, and communication with attorneys.

There is also an agreements section, for example, explaining that the agreement reached may be given to the court in a divorce action. Another section addresses team members such as mental health professionals and financial specialists. Other sections may cover the use of neutral experts and what might happen if the parties feel a professional violates confidentiality.

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
Related Blog Posts