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collaborative divorce, illinois divorce, dupage county family law attorneyThe term “collaborative divorce” has been popping up more often in recent years, with many more lawyers claiming collaborative divorce as one of their practice areas. What is collaborative divorce? It can mean several different things, but usually it means the two sides work together to find a settlement instead of having a contested divorce and hurling accusations at each other.

How Does Collaborative Divorce Work?

Most of the time a collaborative divorce starts before any paperwork is ever filed with the court. Instead, the lawyer from one side sends a friendly letter explaining that his or her client has chosen to pursue a collaborative divorce where the sides work together to settle all the issues.


collaborative law, Illinois divorce, Aurora Family Law AttorneyGoing through a divorce can be a long, sometimes ugly, process, and, while most cases are eventually settled, the process can often add unnecessary expenses and negatively affect family members, particularly young children. In recent years, many divorcing couples, attorneys, and courts have begun popularizing a resolution method known as “collaborative law,” which focuses intently on cooperative negotiation.

Potential Advantages

Collaborative law attorneys look to offer a civilized alternative to litigation; produce solutions that address the needs of both parties; reduce costs; and increase their clients control over the proceedings. Privacy and confidentiality are also concerns that are better able to be addressed in collaborative law situations. In collaborative law, both parties retain qualified lawyers who exclusively focus on negotiation from the outset of the case. Under a written agreement, all involved parties and legal counsel expressly commit to avoiding litigation. The required personal investment in the process often leads better compliance with and enforcement of the resulting agreement.


collaborative law, divorce, Illinois family lawyerNot every divorce is decided in the courtroom. Some couples instead choose to complete their divorces privately, either through mediation or a collaborative law divorce. Each of these options are a type of alternative dispute resolution and each has its own benefits and drawbacks for divorcing couples.

In a collaborative law divorce, a couple maintains the highest amount of control over the proceedings. The couple and their attorneys work together to draft a fair divorce settlement that meets all involved parties' needs. This type of divorce is best suited to couples with amicable relationships who are not divorcing because of adultery, domestic violence, or other volatile grounds.

Talk to your attorney about the possibility of divorcing through collaboration. He or she can give you legal advice tailored to your unique situation to help you decide the best course of action for your divorce. Remember, although collaborative divorce can be a great option, it is not always the best option. Speak to your attorney about reasons why collaborative divorce might or might not be right for you.


how long, divorce, DuPage County Divorce AttorneyWhen most couples decide to pursue a divorce, they do so in the hopes that the process will be completed as quickly as possible. The partners are ready to be done with the marriage and move forward into the next stage of their lives. While they may recognize that certain aspects of the proceedings will take time, many often underestimate how long the process will last and may be unprepared for a drawn-out undertaking.

The length of the divorce process is entirely dependent on the circumstantial factors involved. A couple may have relatively few issues to work through, or they may have a large marital estate, children, and myriad other considerations to be made. Regardless of the number of concerns facing the parties, their ability to work together will generally have biggest impact on how long the divorce will take.

Uncontested Divorce


special needs, collaborative law, DuPage County Divorce AttorneyThe divorce process is challenging for any couple, and especially so for parents. However, parents of special needs children face even more complicated issues during divorce, as the impact to their child can be particular upsetting and stressful. Many parents with special needs children may often it preferable to keep divorce proceedings free from contentiousness and acrimony as much as possible by turning to collaborative law in an effort to negotiate the end to the marriage.

Countless articles and research papers have been written on the current divorce rate in the United States. While many suggest the rate is actually lower than the commonly accepted “half of all marriages end in divorce,” it is fairly difficult to establish for sure. Married parents of children with special needs, however, are far more likely to divorce. According to some estimates, couples with special needs children may face divorce rates of up to 90 percent.

Collaborative Law Can Help


Illinios divorce attorney, Illinois family law attorney, Illinois collaborative divorce attorneyDivorces can be a headache. If you have recently begun the process of ending your marriage, you might find yourself dreading the hours of meeting with attorneys and fighting your spouse in court that are ahead. Fortunately, there is a better way to do things. If you and your spouse feel that you can fairly and effectively create a divorce settlement that meets both your needs, consider taking the collaborative divorce route.

A collaborative divorce is a results-focused process that requires a divorcing couple to work as a team to end their marriage. It requires both parties to be able to verbalize what they want from the divorce and to be flexible with each other, compromising when necessary. Because of the tasks it requires from the divorcing parties, a collaborative divorce is not right for every couple.

How Does a Collaborative Divorce Work?

A collaborative divorce requires the divorcing couple to take a series of steps to end their marriage. These steps are as follows:


Illinios divorce attorney, Illinois family law attorney, DuPage County divorce lawyer,The holidays can be stressful, which could be one reason January is oft-cited as “Divorce Month,” the month in which Americans are most likely to initiate divorce proceedings. According to Psychology Today, there are many reasons other than residual stress from the holidays that lead people to divorce in January: a fresh start for the new year or the fact that they were staying together for the kids during the holidays among them. If you and your soon to be ex-spouse were able to hold it together for familial reasons until January, you may want to consider a no-fault divorce. A no-fault divorce, in which both parties accept that the deterioration of the marriage was merely due to irreconcilable differences and that no party was more at fault than the other, can be a much easier process, both emotionally and financially.

If the spouses have lived apart for more than two years (this does not have to mean in separate residencies; the couple just needs to be able to prove that they were living more like roommates than spouses), Illinois state law provides for a no-fault divorce. Another ground for no-fault divorce is the agreement of both parties that they are simply unable to get along, and that efforts of reconciliation (such as couples counseling) have failed. Spouses may also have to prove that further efforts of reconciliation would not necessarily be good for the family.

No-fault divorce laws make divorce easier because the proceedings usually are not as cutthroat in court, because to win — or have assets split evenly — no party has to prove that the other is at fault. This alleviates the need for unnecessary finger-pointing, which in the worst-case scenario can sometimes amount to outright lies. All states have a no-fault divorce law as of 2014.


collaborative divorce, Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois marital law,There may be a solution for separated couples who are looking for the legal formality of a divorce decree but do not want to go to divorce court. A collaborative law proceeding results in the finality of a litigated solution without the antagonism and negative emotional fallout so often associated with a traditional divorce. Collaborative law is not for everyone, but it may be the right solution for you and your family.

What is Collaborative Law?

Divorce litigation often begins with a preliminary hearing, at which a judge hears arguments then make a decision. The collaborative law model is completely different. The process begins when the parties meet face to face in a small, informal setting outside a courtroom. There is no judge, no court reporter, and no legal wrangling. Instead, the husband and wife map out plans for the end of the marriage, the fair division of assets and the future of their children.


collaborative divorce, Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois marital law,There have recently been several events that indicate new divorce trends. For instance, in a move of particular significance for the millions of Catholics in Illinois, the Vatican recently announced that it was softening its stance on divorce.

After the recently completed synod on marriage and the family, the committee issued a statement that there are “positive aspects of. . .cohabitation.”  The language signals a clear break from traditional church teaching that unmarried couples were living in sin. While stopping well short of endorsing such relationships, the synod also made some similar conclusions about same-sex marriages. The report stated that many gays had “gifts and qualities” that could give these people a place in the Christian community.

Pope Francis has been more inclusive than some of his predecessors, much to the chagrin of many conservatives. Forty-one of the 200 bishops in attendance openly objected to the report, so the matter is far from settled.


collaborative divorce, mediation, alternative dispute resolution, divorce, Illinois divorce lawyerCan the words “good” and “divorce” inhabit the same sentence? A nasty divorce proceeding can harm children; within that process, they suffer decline in math and social ability, returning to normal skill level only when divorce is final. So, divorce without drama, also known as collaborative divorce, can minimize the negative effect, not to mention the cost savings of avoiding courtroom interaction.

As retired Judge Michele Lowrance presents in her book, “The Good Karma Divorce”, the process is to separate from bargaining from a hard position and to move to interest-based negotiation with a “win-win” outcome. After all, this type of diligence follows logically from the path most take today: 80% of couples now live together before marriage, and 80% have reached the 10-year milestone in wedlock. So, if parting is decided upon, a “conscious uncoupling” using creative problem-solving minimizes confrontation and maximizes a positive feeling for both parents and their children.

Collaboration between spouses avoids the use of children as messengers between parents, and encourages them to love both, regardless of where they may go in life.Per the Collaborative Law Institute, costs average half that of courtroom litigation .The need to work around attorney schedules is totally avoided, and solutions are customized; any strict-guideline judicial decision-making is rendered moot.


healthy divorce, DuPage County divorce attorney, collaborative law, alternative dispute resolutionNo one thinks on their wedding day that their marriage is going to fail. Unfortunately, many marriages do fail, whether that’s in the first five years or later down the road. The end of a marriage can wreak havoc on the individuals involved, both emotionally and physically.

Even after you have had some time to move on from the divorce, your feelings of sadness, lonliness and anger can creep up and catch you off guard. Recognizing these responses is normal, and it is part of the growth process that allows you to move on.

Even though there are emotional challenges with the end of any marriage, it is possible to have a healthy divorce.


Collaborative DivorcePerhaps you’re having nightmares or anxiety over your impending divorce. Maybe you and your soon to be ex-spouse are on decent terms, but you’re worried about how that might change in the courtroom, and possibly even how that might affect your children. The typical legal approach to divorce is not always the best one for your situation, and collaborative divorce is a new avenue that couples are using to resolve the pressing divorce issues without any of the disadvantages of going to court.

Collaborative family law can be thought of like a problem-solving process: divorcing individuals and their lawyers work together to create an effective strategy for resolving issues outside of court. This involves a pledge not to go to court, a promise to exchange information promptly and in good faith without formal discovery, and a commitment to stay focused on reaching a solution that is best for the parties and their children.

To get started with a collaborative divorce, you need to identify an attorney who is experienced in this field of the law. Lawyers who practice collaborative law are future-focused: rather than getting involved in legal arguments over what happened in the past, collaborative attorneys are committed to creating workable solutions for the future.


Collaborative Divorce May Be BetterNot all divorces have to be the ugly blow-up they’re stereotyped as. In many cases, even if you’re not on good terms with your soon-to-be ex spouse, it’s possible to make it through the divorce on good terms as the last amicable thing you’ll do together. If you don’t share children this is easier, but it’s possible in any circumstance. This is what’s known as a collaborative divorce. While it may seem too optimistic, many couples opt for collaborative law in an effort to stave off the extreme cost of divorce and keep things simpler and happier. After all, you managed to agree that you both wanted to split. Why not make an effort to agree on the terms of said split?

According to US News and World Report, a collaborative divorce is based on the “concept that you were partners—even if not good ones—throughout your marriage and you should be able to end it together as well.” This applies to all aspects of the divorce, including property division, division of assets, and determining child custody. “Most people can agree that litigation is a terrible process for a family to endure,” one lawyer told US News and World Report. “The collaborative process if one of the most productive ways to divorce when it works.”

Yet the publication is quick to remind readers that even a collaborative divorce doesn’t guarantee a happy one. Chances are, even if you opt for mediation, working together with your spouse in the one last process you’ll undertake together won’t be easy. This could be one reason that the number of people who opt for collaborative divorces is still low. “For instance, according to the Wisconsin Law Journal, Waukesha County had 3,862 divorces from 2010 to 2012; during that period, there were only 62 collaborative divorce cases filed,” reports US News and World Report.

The Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C.


1444 North Farnsworth Avenue, Suite 307, Aurora, IL 60505

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