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Collaborative Divorce in Illinois

Divorce does not need to be a high conflict experience. While most divorces have some level of disagreement, most people realize the benefits of working together and developing a mutually satisfactory way to divide assets and liabilities and to create a co-parenting plan.

In the past, divorce was adversarial, with each spouse retaining an attorney and going through the court system if they could not agree on how to manage the assets, liabilities, and the kids. In the last few decades, mediation has become an important tool in family law, allowing each spouse to meet with a neutral third party, a mediator, to attempt to develop an agreement.

Today, in addition to mediation, there is also the option to go through a collaborative divorce with a collaborative divorce attorney. This process has elements of mediation as well as traditional divorce processes, with the goal of creating a mutually agreeable divorce settlement as well as a strong relationship moving forward.

The Key Factors
The goal of collaborative divorce is for the couple and the attorneys to work together to develop the terms of the divorce. This is done through a series of 4-way meetings, each person and his or her divorce attorney, with specific issues addressed at each meeting.

Depending on the complexity of the divorce, these meetings may also include other professionals. It is not uncommon for tax or business lawyers, accountants, financial planners, or other professionals to provide information or to make recommendations that are in the best interests of both parties to the divorce.

The collaborative process is more comprehensive than mediation and provides the time needed for thorough discussions of the topics. As this is done out of court, it often allows for a faster settlement and less cost to the couple. Also, as the attorneys practicing collaborative law are typically also trained as mediators, the best options in communication and conflict resolution are used throughout the 4-way meetings. The attorneys, unlike the mediator, can also draft the divorce agreement, which speeds up the process and ensures all decisions are included in the divorce settlement.

It is essential to talk to a divorce attorney and ensure he or she is a collaborative law professional. Not all divorce lawyers practice collaborative law, and there is a different approach to working with clients and working with the other spouse and his or her attorney using this approach.