Collaborative divorce has been around since the 1980s, and it has been practiced in Illinois since 2002. The Collaborative Process Act went into effect at the beginning of 2018, officially recognizing collaborative divorce as an option to couples who want to legally separate. The act breaks down guidelines for couples to follow when they decide to pursue the collaborative divorce model, such as signing a collaborative contract and retaining certified collaborative divorce attorneys.
What Is Collaborative Divorce?
The collaborative divorce process begins when the couple and their collaborative divorce attorneys sign a legally binding contract to agree to resolve their marital disputes outside of the courtroom. The point of collaborative divorce is to avoid litigation and keep control over assets, property, child custody agreements, spousal maintenance, or any other issue that may arise during the divorce process.
The Collaborative Divorce Process
The collaborative divorce process consists of a series of meetings that take place in private offices rather than the courtroom. Each person works with their own certified collaborative attorney, in addition to a team of trained professionals in various fields.
1. Beginning the Process
When you have made the decision to go with a collaborative divorce, the first step is to find a certified collaborative divorce attorney. The attorney will talk with you about the collaborative divorce process, answer any questions you might have, and prepare you for collaborative meetings.
2. Making the Commitment
During the first meeting, both partners and their lawyers will sign a document called a participation agreement. The agreement states that you will work with your spouse to come to a collaborative decision about all issues, rather than going to court, in order to benefit you and your children, if you have them. By signing the agreement, you also agree to voluntarily provide all documents needed during the divorce. If the collaborative process is unsuccessful, and either party decides to resolve matters in court, both partners must surrender their attorneys and their teams and seek other counsel.
3. Choosing a Team
In addition to your attorneys, your collaborative team will include specialists of your choosing. These specialists can include divorce coaches, child specialists, appraisers, estate planning attorneys, mediators, or psychologists. Who you have on your collaborative team depends entirely on the needs of your family and your situation.
4. Negotiating Your Settlement
Collaborative divorce is exactly what you would think it is–you and your partner collaboratively work together to achieve a result that you both are satisfied with. Your meetings will be used to negotiate your parenting responsibilities, visitation arrangements, and how you will divide your marital assets and debts. You will also decide whether or not spousal support is needed for a spouse and the amount and duration of support if it is needed. The collaborative team will help you make these decisions respectfully and calmly, and your attorneys will be there to give you legal advice.
5. Moving Forward
Once you have reached an agreement about all matters, your attorneys will write up the agreements into legally-binding documents. Once you and your partner have signed the documents, your attorneys will file them with the court and schedule a hearing to finalize the divorce.
Seek Counsel From a Lincolnwood Collaborative Divorce Lawyer
Collaborative divorce has many benefits, including lessened legal costs and increased power in making your life decisions. With the help of a skilled Skokie collaborative divorce attorney, you can ensure that you are getting what you want out of your divorce. Contact the lawyers at Weiss-Kunz & Oliver, LLC to see how you can begin the collaborative divorce process. Call 630-530-4400 to schedule a consultation.