Divorce can be a complicated process, requiring some difficult decisions as couples work to separate the many aspects of their lives that have become intertwined over the course of their relationship. While making these decisions, disagreements often arise over issues such as the division of marital property and the allocation of parental responsibility, but if spouses are able to work together to reach a mutually beneficial outcome, they can avoid the costs and stress of litigation.
Many couples today are turning to methods of alternative dispute resolution to settle divorce matters, and one method that is becoming more popular is collaborative divorce (which is also sometimes called collaborative law). In August of 2017, the state of Illinois formally recognized collaborative divorce when Governor Bruce Rauner signed the Collaborative Process Act, which will take effect on January 1, 2018.
The Collaborative Process As Defined By Illinois Law
When spouses use collaborative law, they and their attorneys work together to resolve outstanding issues in divorce or other family law matters. The Collaborative Process Act makes several provisions for how this process should be carried out, including:
- Collaborative law can be used to settle any dispute or issue that arises under Illinois’ family or domestic relations laws, including marriage, divorce, legal separation, property division, allocation of parental responsibility and parenting time, spousal support, child support, adoption, paternity, and prenuptial or postnuptial agreements.
- At the beginning of the collaborative process, the parties will sign a collaborative process participation agreement that states their intention to resolve their disputes through collaborative law, describes the nature and scope the matters to be resolved, identifies the parties’ attorneys, and states that the parties will discharge their attorneys if they are unable to reach a resolution through the collaborative process.
- The law states that “voluntary informal disclosure of information related to a matter is a defining characteristic of the collaborative process.” This means that the parties should provide each other with any information requested in a timely manner while they are working to reach an agreement. If necessary, they can specify the scope of information disclosure in the collaborative process participation agreement.
- When the parties reach an agreement, they will conclude the collaborative process and submit their agreement to the court. If they are unable to agree on every matter, they may submit a partial resolution and specify which matters still need to be resolved through other methods. The collaborative process can also be terminated by either party with or without cause, and it will also be terminated when a party’s attorney is discharged or withdraws from representing their client.
- Communication between parties during the collaborative process is considered confidential and is not admissible as evidence or subject to discovery unless both parties agree to disclose any of this information.
Contact an Experienced Collaborative Divorce Attorney
If you are looking to resolve the outstanding issues in your divorce, collaborative law is a great way to do so while avoiding costly court battles. If you need help reaching an amicable agreement in your divorce, the attorneys at Weiss-Kunz & Oliver, LLC can represent you in the collaborative process and make sure you meet all your legal requirements as you work to finalize your divorce. Contact an Elmhurst divorce lawyer today at 312-605-4041 to schedule a consultation.