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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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Wheaton divorce mediation attorneyThe end of a marriage is rarely without conflict, but some divorces involve more contention than others. If divorcing spouses cannot reach an agreement about issues such as asset division, child custodychild support, and spousal maintenance, the court will need to intervene. Courtroom litigation is typically more expensive, time-consuming, and stressful than alternative means of resolution like mediation and collaborative divorce. When spouses are able to put their resentments aside and work cooperatively to resolve divorce issues, they will likely save a great deal of time and money. Read on to learn about two alternative dispute resolution methods available to spouses getting divorced in Illinois.

Negotiating Issues With the Help of a Mediator

It can be nearly impossible for two people who are ending their marriage to remain objective and reasonable when discussing divorce-related concerns. Spouses may understandably have a great deal of pent up anger, sadness, or disappointment about the circumstances that led to the end of the marriage. A mediator can be a huge benefit to spouses who need help staying on track and remaining focused on the goal of resolution during divorce negotiations. The mediator’s job is not to deem either spouse’s ideas and opinions as right or wrong. Instead, the mediator facilitates a productive, cooperative discussion so that spouses can reach an agreement about divorce issues without the need for court intervention. Unlike court litigation, conversations had during mediation are confidential.

The Collaborative Law Process Offers Many Benefits

The collaborative divorce process may be right for couples who have disagreements about the terms of their divorce, but they are not completely opposed to negotiating the terms cooperatively and amicably. During the collaborative law process, both spouses and their respective attorneys hold a series of meetings to discuss divorce issues in a non-combative, constructive way. The spouses, their lawyers, and any other professionals participating in the process, such as child specialists or financial professionals, sign a contract called a “participation agreement.” This contract states that both spouses, their attorneys, and the other professionals involved in the process promise not to go to court. When courtroom litigation is off the table, the spouses and their legal counsel can focus on finding creative ways to reach a resolution. Everyone involved is encouraged to work together to reach a settlement, because if the case does proceed to litigation, the parties’ attorneys will withdraw from the case, and both spouses will need to find new legal representatives.

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Lombard collaborative law attorneyWhen a couple makes the decision to get married, the union is a truly beautiful thing. However, the stresses of life, ranging from financial security to parenting disputes, can bring a marriage to a screeching halt. When a marriage is no longer healthy, a divorce can represent an opportunity to start anew. While most people think of divorce as a heated and contested process that is navigated through litigation in court, many divorces can be resolved in an amicable fashion. Collaborative divorce is one alternative method used to resolve the issues couples must address when dissolving their marriage. 

Understanding Collaborative Divorce 

Through collaborative law, a couple looking to end their marriage will work with their respective attorneys in reaching a settlement that is agreed upon by both parties. Typically, a couple will agree to fully disclose all necessary information to each other over the course of their negotiations, and their attorneys will agree to withdraw from the case if an agreement cannot be reached. A collaborative divorce can resolve issues ranging from the division of marital property to child custody. If you decide that you want to pursue a collaborative divorce, it is important to fully understand that the process will require patience and trust in both your former spouse and the legal professionals you are working with. 

The benefits of a collaborative divorce are numerous. The collaborative process enables you to work with your ex-spouse and develop a new relationship. By avoiding litigation, you can finalize the divorce in a timely fashion, and keep your family matters private. Financially speaking, a collaborative divorce will enable both parties to agree upon a settlement that will ensure equity and financial security. Due to the general speed of most collaborative divorces, the process can result in savings in attorney’s fees. 

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Posted on in Divorce

Wheaton divorce lawyersWhile many divorces can be stressful and contentious, the vast majority of divorces can be settled amicably by the two parties involved. When a judge becomes involved in the divorce process, the outcomes are no longer in the control of the people impacted by them the most. If you and your former spouse believe you can work through the divorce process together, a collaborative law divorce may be the right choice for you.

Collaborative divorce is a process in which couples who have elected to file for divorce, can work with their lawyers to achieve a mutually agreed upon settlement. If you and your partner want to attempt to work through the collaborative divorce process, it is important to consult with your legal team to begin preparation for the process.

Preparing for a Collaborative Divorce

In order for a collaborative divorce to work smoothly, both parties must be willing to cooperate and compromise. While speaking with your legal team, they will likely prepare you emotionally for the process. Despite the fact that these divorces can usually be settled much quicker than the standard divorce process, it is important to come into the process with a strong level of patience. Remember that this process is incredibly difficult for your former-spouse as well.

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