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Using collaborative law to untie the marital knots

Divorce can cause rifts in families that can take years to heal. That's why many couples decide on a different approach using collaborative law processes to resolve their differences.

Will I get a fair deal?

Collaborative law allows couples to privately address specific issues civilly without intervention from the Illinois courts.

The basic premise of collaborative law is that the parties agree to negotiate their differences without seeking judicial intervention. A divorce that drags out months and sometimes years produces little but ill will between the former spouses and astronomical legal fees for the attorneys. Most rational couples prefer a different approach when it comes to spilling the beans on their dysfunctional marriages.

A benefit of using collaborative law is that you are free to tailor your parenting plan to address each matter that affects your family. You don't have to worry about trying to fit your family issues into a one-size-fits-all solution that leaves everyone miserable.

How does it work?

The spouses must both agree to the process in order for it to be successful. Both parties must each retain separate attorneys, and they will need to select neutral parties to define the financial and custodial arrangements.

A collaborative divorce is transparent. That means that neither spouse attempts to hide assets and is candid about financial liabilities. Both agree to be forthcoming with providing financial and property documents without the need for subpoenas and discovery orders.

Couples with few resources may only need to address custodial issues. Alternatively, older divorcing spouses without minor children are free to focus solely on the division of assets and debts from the marriage.

What is the purpose of neutral parties? Can't my attorney handle that?

Attorneys are not neutral, so the spouses can't be sure that their best interests are carried forth. The neutral party with the financial acumen can offer various options for the spouses to apportion their marital property, explaining any tax consequences that could affect a spouse's bottom line.

When custodial issues are involved, a neutral family counselor identifies the parenting goal of both spouses. Then, in a series of meetings, he or she guides the couple to reach accord on matters of custody and visitation schedules, access to medical and school records and even child support.

Your family law attorney can further explain the collaborative law process and answer any questions you may have.

Source: LinkedIn, "Why Collaborative Law Makes Sense: "A Better Way to Untie the Knot"," Natalie Gregg, accessed June 23, 2017

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