A collaborative divorce is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) that allows divorcing couples to settle their separation outside of court. It focuses on spouses collaborating with each other and their individual attorneys on a separation agreement rather than arguing against each other in litigation. Collaborative divorces can even be useful for some contentious divorces.
The Process of Collaborative Divorces
In a collaborative divorce, both spouses are represented by an attorney, and these parties work together to craft a separation agreement in a non-adversarial procedure.
When beginning a collaborative divorce, spouses and their attorneys sign an agreement to participate in the collaborative process. Then, at their own pace, parties can begin to discuss essential aspects of a separation agreement, such as division of property and alimony. If the couple has children, they can also discuss custody, visitation, and child support. The collaborative process provides structure for parties to discuss these issues while discouraging contentious arguments. The process will focus on the interests of both parties and any children they have.
Once a couple has reached a fair compromise, a separation agreement will be entered into the court for approval.
Benefits of Collaborative Divorce
Handling a divorce through court is time-consuming, stressful, and costly. Even if you and your spouse don’t agree on every aspect of a divorce, you don’t have to enter into litigation. A collaborative divorce can help parties reach an agreement and has several benefits. They include:
- More Control Over the Divorce Outcome
When a couple goes through court for their divorce, the outcome of the case is up to the discretion of the judge. This includes how property is divided, whether alimony is awarded, and the custody and support of children. Each spouse and their divorce attorney can advocate for what they want from the court order, but the final say relies on the judge.
During a collaborative divorce, both spouses have control over and say in the separation agreement. Though the final agreement must be approved by a judge, the judge will likely only deny an agreement if it is unfair to one party or not in the child’s interests. Parties in a collaborative divorce have control over the speed of the divorce and the decisions made in the separation agreement. It allows you and your spouse to work together to create a new future.
- Less Expensive than Court
Litigation is not cheap. Not only are there court costs associated with litigation, but attorneys often charge higher rates for divorces that enter into court. Because litigation takes longer, attorney fees will also add up if you are being charged hourly. The more contentious and argumentative you and your spouse are during proceedings, the more complicated a court divorce will be. It will require more time, more hearings, and more money to solve. It will also take time away from your work and may require you to drive further.
Collaborative divorces can usually be resolved more quickly and work according to you and your spouse’s schedule. Attorneys may be less expensive for representation in a collaborative divorce.
- Saves Everyone Time and Stress
A collaborative divorce is more likely to be handled faster than a court divorce. Court hearings are hard to schedule, take time, and you have to wait for the court to be available. Many people want to move on with their changed lives but are unable to until the divorce is finalized. Court dates are also incredibly stressful, and the formality of the process can be overwhelming.
A collaborative divorce is quicker and less formal. There is also less tension between spouses because you are working together rather than arguing against each other in court. Collaborative divorce focuses on the wishes and needs of both spouses, helping both of you toward an improved future and potentially improving your communication. This can help make the process less frustrating and stressful.
- Helps Parents With Co-Parenting
The collaborative divorce process is much easier on any children of a divorce, in part because it is less stressful and less time-consuming. During a court divorce, children may have to appear in court for child-related court orders, which can be very overwhelming. Collaborative divorce avoids this.
Collaboration also allows parents to create a parenting plan that is beneficial to their children while adapting to both parents’ schedules. Parents are able to work together on every aspect of planning for their children, which provides a strong foundation for co-parenting in the future.
Q: What Is the Downside of Collaborative Divorce?
A: A collaborative divorce is useful if you and your spouse can reach an agreement through it. However, if parties are unable to do so and end up litigating the divorce, a collaborative divorce can waste time, money, and resources. Although collaborative divorce can be an effective way to handle some contentious divorces, some parties are unable to come to reasonable compromises together. It’s important to discuss the options for divorce with your attorney. They can help you determine if a collaborative divorce is the right option for your separation.
Q: Is Illinois a 50/50 Divorce State?
A: Illinois is not a 50/50 divorce state for the division of property. It is an equitable distribution state, which means that marital property is divided according to several factors to be equitable rather than equal. These factors include how both parties contributed to marital property and their actions that caused the loss of marital property. Spouses that handle their divorces outside of court are not subject to equitable distribution.
Q: How Can I Speed Up My Divorce in Illinois?
A: One of the fastest ways to get a divorce in Illinois is through alternative dispute resolution (ADR). This includes mediation and collaborative divorce. These are different ways of settling a divorce outside of court. Any court proceedings will significantly lengthen the divorce process. However, ADR is only possible if you and your spouse agree on all or most aspects of a separation agreement or can reach a conclusion.
Q: Can You Get Divorced Without a Lawyer in Illinois?
A: Yes, you can get divorced without an attorney, but the process will likely take longer. Even in a collaborative divorce, working without an attorney can leave you vulnerable to unfair or unreasonable separation agreements. An attorney will protect your rights and interests and know how to handle hidden assets, disagreements over parenting plans, and other situations unique to your divorce.
Protect Your Interests
A qualified collaborative divorce attorney can ensure that your divorce goes smoothly and that your rights are protected. Contact Stange Law Firm today.