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In the last few years, more and more couples have begun attempting to resolve marital dissolution issues through collaborative divorce. This may be partly due to the amendments recently made to Illinois divorce law, which did away with the concept of fault-based divorce. As a result, a spouse may have less of an incentive to seek financial compensation for the other spouse’s alleged wrongdoing. Instead, the parties are urged to work together in an out of court setting to formulate a custody arrangement or decide how property will be divided. Collaborative divorces can save families a significant amount of time and money and can be much less stressful for all parties, especially if a couple has children, so if you and your spouse are considering separating, it is important to contact an experienced divorce law attorney who can evaluate your case and explain the process of collaborative divorce.

The Collaborative Divorce Process

In collaborative divorces, each spouse retains his or her own attorney, after which, all parties must sign a binding contract, known as a Participation Agreement. This agreement represents the parties’ legal commitment to resolving disputes according to collaborative guidelines, which include open, honest, and respectful negotiation outside of a courtroom. A team of professionals then helps advise the couple on various issues related to divorce. Typical team members include:

  • A parenting specialist, who helps the parties resolve issues related to their children, including custody and visitation;
  • A financial specialist, who helps the couple complete their financial disclosure statements and determine the value of their assets;
  • A divorce coach, whose function is to assist the couple in dealing with the emotional aspects of dissolving their marriage by helping each party set goals for the divorce process.

If a couple owns a business or especially valuable possessions they may also need to employ a business valuation expert or an appraiser.

Once the services of these specialists have been assured, the couple can begin working through the collaborative process, which is conducted through a series of structured, non-adversarial meetings that focus on the parties’ needs and interests. Collaborative divorces proceed at the pace desired by the parties, which can eliminate a significant amount of stress that repeated court appearances can take on a couple.

Once an agreement has been reached, the parties’ attorneys draft a document containing the agreed-upon information. This agreement is then presented to the judge for approval. If a couple is unable to reach a settlement, the parties will need to litigate the case in court. However, neither party will be permitted to use the same attorney who represented them in the collaborative divorce proceedings.

How an Experienced Illinois Divorce Attorney Can Help

Divorce is one of the most stressful and emotional hurdles that many families will ever be required to overcome. Collaborative divorces can go a long way towards eliminating some of that stress, so if you live near Arlington Heights, Barrington, Inverness, Palatine, Rolling Meadows, or Schaumburg and are considering a divorce, please contact The Law Offices of Jenet G. Pequeno, LLC at (847) 616-0980 to schedule an initial constellation with a dedicated divorce attorney who can help explain your legal options.