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What is a collaborative divorce?

We've all seen the movies or heard stories of conflict-ridden divorces where former spouses duke it out in court. Even in cases where a couple's decision to divorce was mutual and a split amicable, things can quickly become contentious when the divorce process ensues. So is every unhappy husband and wife who wants out of a marriage destined to suffer the adverse emotional, psychological and financial effects of a horrible divorce? The answer, thankfully, is no.

The collaborative process provides an alternative means to resolving a divorce which typically involves litigation. Couples who opt for a collaborative divorce are ultimately allowed more direct control over the entire process as they regularly meet face-to-face with a soon-to-be ex-spouse to discuss and negotiate details related to the division of marital assets and property and terms of child custody and visitation agreements.

Some spouses who wish to divorce require court intervention to settle divorce-related matters. Others, however, may be able to largely handle matters on their own with the guidance and support of respective divorce attorneys and other specialists.

Prior to opting for a collaborative divorce, both spouses must commit to the process and agree to certain terms. Mutual respect and a cooperative and civil spirit must be maintained throughout the process to ensure for a successful outcome.

Divorcing couples who are able to reach a divorce settlement through the collaborative divorce process often have better relationships with one another post-divorce. This is especially important for divorced parents who must find a way to effectively communicate and co-parent for many years to come. The collaborative divorce process is also less expensive than a traditional divorce thereby allowing both parties to invest finances, which would otherwise have been spent on court proceedings, in their futures.

Once a couple has made the decision to divorce, the focus should be on moving on and forward rather than dwelling on past mistakes and regrets. Chicago area couples who are planning to divorce and interested in learning more about the collaborative divorce process would be wise to consult with an attorney who practices collaborative law.

Source: Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois, "Collaborative Divorce Goals and Benefits," 2014

Source: Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois, "Collaborative Divorce Goals and Benefits," 2014

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