Learning More About Collaborative Divorce

Learning More About Collaborative Divorce

By: M. Scott Gordon

If you are considering ‘filing for divorce in Chicago‘, or if you are in the early stages of the ‘divorce‘ process, you may have heard about collaborative divorce. But what is collaborative divorce, and how does it work? While the term is often used broadly to describe collaborative processes that might occur in a divorce case, there is actually an Illinois law that governs collaborative divorce. More specifically, the ‘Illinois Collaborative Process Act‘ (750 ILCS 90/) details what is necessary to have a collaborative divorce under the law, and how collaborative divorce is defined within the state.

We will tell you more about collaborative divorce, how it works, and why it is beneficial for some families when they are dissolving a marriage.

Defining Collaborative Divorce Terms Under the Act

The Illinois Collaborative Process Act took effect on January 1, 2018. The statute defines a “collaborative process matter” as a “dispute, transaction, claim, problem, or issue for resolution, including a dispute, claim or issue in a proceeding . . . that arises under the family or domestic relations law” of Illinois. Such disputes, claims or issues include, among other things, marriage, divorce, dissolution, legal separation, property distribution, and parental responsibilities.

The statute then makes clear that a collaborative divorce, or a collaborative process, is a “procedure intended to resolve a collaborative process matter without intervention by a court.” An ‘article‘ in NPR Illinois clarifies that collaborative divorce is one in which both parties agree to a “team-based method” of resolving disputes and dissolving the marriage with the help of “a group of professionals who coach them on finances, mental health, and childcare needs.” Disputes and other issues are resolved through discussions, allowing both parties to participate in the process.

Key Elements of a Collaborative Divorce

As the NPR Illinois article points out, many people use the term “collaborative divorce” in a general fashion, referring to negotiations or discussions surrounding property division or parenting time, for example, yet the statute very clearly outlines what must occur to have a collaborative divorce under the statute:

  • Both parties sign a collaborative process participation agreement; and
  • Both parties are represented by collaborative process lawyers.

What is a collaborative process lawyer? The statute only specifies that a collaborative process lawyer is “a lawyer who represents a party in a collaborative process and helps carry out the process of the agreement but is not a party to the agreement.” The NPR Illinois article clarifies that a collaborative process lawyer who is a collaborative practitioner, has been trained in this fashion, and follows the Illinois Collaborative Process Act.

A Chicago Divorce Lawyer Can Help with Your Case

Collaborative divorce, the article underscores, “is not for everyone.” For some couples, it is most important to have control over the divorce process and to have a team of professionals from different fields to help the family through it. For other persons, it is more important to work with an aggressive litigator who can deal with contentious divorce issues. If you have questions about divorce in Illinois, you should speak with a ‘Chicago divorce lawyer‘. An advocate at our firm can discuss your case with you today. ‘Contact Gordon & Perlut, LLC‘ for more information.