How Is Collaborative Law Used to Resolve Divorce Issues?
If you are planning to divorce, you may have questions about how you can protect your rights and reach a divorce settlement that is reasonable and fair. You may want the legal protection and support that comes with hiring a lawyer but are worried that bringing lawyers into the equation could make your divorce more adversarial. Whether your worries are accurate or not, there is an option in Illinois that allows divorcing couples to work with attorneys under a non-adversarial process. Collaborative divorce, or a divorce resolved by means of collaborative law, is an alternative resolution method that has helped many couples settle divorce issues without resorting to stressful and often antagonistic litigation.
What Happens During a Collaborative Divorce?
During a collaborative divorce, each spouse retains his or her own lawyer who provides legal guidance throughout the collaborative process. The spouses and their respective lawyers will work together to negotiate unresolved divorce issues during a series of informal meetings. The purpose of these meetings is not to “win” or “lose,” but instead to reach mutually agreeable solutions regarding the division of marital property and debt, spousal maintenance, child custody, and other divorce-related disputes. Once an agreement has been reached, the lawyers submit the necessary paperwork to the court and the agreements are written into the final divorce decree.
Benefits Associated with Collaborative Divorce
Every participant in a collaborative divorce signs a “Participation Agreement” in which they promise to abide by certain rules. Although the specific language varies from case to case, most Participation Agreements require participants to:
Disclose relevant information and financial documentation
Negotiate in good faith
Work toward a mutually favorable outcome
Keep the case out of court
Perhaps the most important element of the Participation Agreement is that the parties agree not to take the case to trial. If the divorce cannot be resolved via the collaborative process, the lawyers are not allowed to represent the spouses during litigation. This means that the spouses and their attorneys are particularly inclined to reach a settlement during the collaborative meetings.
Collaborative divorce offers numerous benefits when compared with litigation. First, the collaborative divorce process is typically less expensive and much less stressful than litigation. The parties are in control of designing their own settlement instead of being subject to a divorce judgment handed down by a judge. Many spouses also find that collaborative divorce allows them to remain on relatively good terms after the divorce. This is especially important for parents who plan to share parental responsibilities and parenting time. Lastly, unlike information disclosed during litigation, the information revealed during collaborative meetings is strictly confidential.
Contact a Wheaton, IL Collaborative Divorce Lawyer
At MKFM Law, we understand that a cooperative and non-adversarial spirit can be a huge benefit for some divorcing couples. DuPage County divorce attorney Lynn M. Mirabella is a certified Collaborative Family Law practitioner with widespread experience helping divorcing spouses reach creative solutions to divorce disputes. To learn more about how our team of professionals can help you, call us today at 630-665-7300 to schedule a private consultation.