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Wheaton, IL collaborative divorce lawyerWhen most people think of divorce, they think of high-drama courtroom proceedings, such as in critically acclaimed films about divorce, like Marriage Story and Kramer vs. Kramer. Perhaps Hollywood is to blame for the incorrect assumption that all divorces equal never-ending drama and heartache, with personal dealings spilling out in a courtroom for all to hear. However, you may be surprised that this is only sometimes the case. In fact, divorce does not need to be a dragged-out and expensive spectacle. 

A collaborative divorce is an option that has been gaining in popularity in recent years, and rightfully so. This blog will delve deeper into the various benefits of collaborative divorce and why collaborative divorce is often the preferred divorce method for so many people. If you want to get a divorce but want to save yourself the emotional turmoil that usually follows divorce and courtroom litigation, contact an experienced attorney who has dealt with collaborative divorces to help protect your rights and guide you through the process. 

 So, What Are the Benefits of a Collaborative Divorce? 

Remember that with collaborative divorce, you and your spouse will still be strongly encouraged to retain attorneys to help guide you through the collaborative divorce process. However, everyone will work together to come to an agreement. Furthermore, there are various benefits to collaborative divorce. These benefits may include the following:

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shutterstock_1244644939.jpgAs divorce in Illinois continues to be very common, many parents have chosen to ditch the shame and guilt of deciding to separate and instead have chosen to tackle problems head-on, focusing on divorce in a way that is best for their family. While divorce is still not easy, alternative dispute resolution methods allow parents to consciously uncouple while prioritizing the needs of their children. One of the most thorough and effective ways of doing this is through the use of a collaborative divorce

Why Would a Parent Choose Collaborative Divorce? 

Traditional divorce methods involve high-stakes court litigation and expensive, conflict-ridden negotiations over money, custody, and other important issues. Rather than get bogged down in endless fighting, parents can work together, with the help of their attorneys and third-party professionals, to achieve a results-driven compromise that puts the needs of the children first.

This takes some of the burden off the shoulders of the parents. With the help of their collaborative team, parents can come up with creative solutions and get impartial feedback on possible custody arrangements. A collaborative divorce team can also help parents keep a long-term perspective and provide unbiased feedback when parents may be too focused on short-term conflict. 

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DuPage County collaborative divorce attorneyIf you are getting divorced in Illinois, you and your spouse must resolve several issues before your marriage can be legally dissolved. Depending on your situation, you may need to reach an agreement about how to divide marital property and debt, how to allocate parental responsibilities, whether a spouse will receive spousal maintenance or alimony, and more. If you are unable to reach an agreement about one or more of these issues, your case could go to trial. Divorce litigation is often a stressful, expensive, and combative process. One alternative to divorce litigation that has helped many couples reach an out-of-court settlement is collaborative divorce.

Working With an Attorney Without Being Adversarial

Thanks in large part to movies and TV shows, many people assume that involving lawyers in a divorce automatically means that the case will lead to a contentious courtroom battle. This is not the case with collaborative divorce. As the name implies, a collaborative divorce is rooted in cooperation and respect. Collaborative divorce may be right for you if you want to have legal guidance and support from a lawyer, but you want to avoid a highly adversarial litigation process.

Participants in a Collaborative Divorce Focus on Solutions, Not “Winning”  

During a collaborative divorce, each spouse, each spouse’s attorney, and all other participants sign an agreement called a “participation agreement” or “collaborative agreement.” In the agreement, they promise to negotiate the unresolved divorce issues in good faith, freely exchange the necessary documents and information, and keep discussions and negotiations confidential. Perhaps even more importantly, the participants agree to keep the case out of court. In most collaborative divorces, the attorneys are prohibited from representing the spouses during litigation if the spouses cannot reach a settlement through the collaborative process. The goal of a collaborative divorce is to reach a mutually-agreeable resolution so that the spouses can finish the divorce and move on with their lives.

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DuPage County collaborative law attorneyIf you are planning to divorce, you will need to make decisions about issues such as asset and debt division, child custody, spousal maintenance, and more. Reaching an agreement about these issues can be nearly impossible without the help of an attorney. Collaborative law is one option that may help you resolve divorce issues. During a collaborative divorce, spouses and their attorneys work together to find mutually-agreeable solutions to the unresolved issues and avoid going to trial.

How Does Collaborative Divorce Work?

In a collaborative divorce, both spouses retain attorneys who are trained in collaborative law. First, each spouse meets with his or her attorney to identify the unresolved issues and discuss their desired outcomes. Next, the spouses and their respective attorneys hold a series of meetings during which they negotiate divorce issues and discuss possible solutions.

One of the most unique aspects of collaborative divorce is the use of a “collaborative agreement” or “participation agreement.” This is an agreement that every participant signs before negotiations begin. In the agreement, the spouses promise to negotiate in good faith, disclose any information or documentation relevant to the negotiations such as tax returns or mortgage documents, and maintain confidentiality. The participants also agree to keep the case out of court. If the collaborative process does not result in a settlement, and the case goes to litigation, the attorneys may not represent the spouses during the divorce trial. The spouses will need to hire new attorneys and bring those attorneys up to speed about the unresolved divorce issues.  

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DuPage County collaborative divorce attorneyWhen many people think of divorce, they imagine a tense courtroom scene involving two bitter spouses intent on “winning” the divorce. Fortunately, there are many ways to end a marriage without the need for aggressive court battles. If you are planning to get divorced, you and your spouse may understandably struggle to see eye-to-eye about certain things. You may have different opinions about who should retain ownership of the family home, how bank account balances should be divided, who should have the majority of parenting time, or other issues. Collaborative divorce offers a way for divorcing couples to work on finding a resolution to divorce issues without the hostility, expense, and stress associated with divorce litigation.

The Collaborative Divorce Process in Illinois

During a collaborative divorce, each spouse retains an attorney who has been trained in collaborative law. The spouses and their respective attorneys hold a series of meetings to identify unresolved divorce issues and work on finding solutions to these issues that both spouses agree to. Before negotiations begin, spouses and their lawyers sign a commitment called a “Participation Agreement.” In the agreement, each member of the collaborative team commits to work together cooperatively and honestly. The spouses also agree to voluntarily provide any relevant information needed during the collaborative process, such as financial documents. The collaborative team may also include experts such as child specialists, divorce coaches, and financial planners.

Working as a Team Toward a Common Goal

Unlike public courtroom proceedings, the discussions that take place in collaborative divorce meetings are confidential. The meetings take place in an informal setting that is much less intimidating than a courtroom. Parents who have disputes regarding the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time often find collaborative divorce to be especially beneficial. Instead of parents working against each other, they work in a cooperative, productive fashion to create a parenting plan that works for both of them and provides for their children’s best interests. Once the spouses reach an agreement about the unresolved divorce issues, their lawyers write the terms of the agreement into legally binding documents. They file these documents with the court, and the spouses can then finalize their divorce during a final hearing.

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