Collaborative Divorce Lawyer in Illinois

When most people think about divorce, they worry that it will be a highly contentious, expensive, drawn-out legal battle. While some divorces are incredibly stressful, they don’t have to be. There are options – like collaborative divorce – where the parties work together to resolve their divorce amicably.

Collaborative law, mediation, and other methods of alternative dispute resolution continue to become more popular for couples seeking a divorce. In a collaborative divorce, the parties work together to come to an agreement about issues like property division, alimony, and child custody with the assistance of a Barrington collaborative divorce lawyer.

If you and your soon-to-be-ex (STBX) are able to work together, it can be a much more straightforward and less expensive way to get divorced.

While it may not be appropriate for every situation, it is important to understand the option of collaborative divorce before choosing how to proceed in achieving your goals. 

At Manassa Law, we have deep experience in the field of collaborative divorce. Our founding attorney, Lawrence S. Manassa, is a fellow with the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois. Reach out today to schedule a consultation with one of our collaborative divorce lawyer in Illinois.

collaborative divorce

What Is Collaborative Divorce?

Under the Illinois Collaborative Process Act or ICPA, a collaborative process is defined as a “procedure intended to resolve a collaborative process matter without intervention by the court.” In other words, it is a way to come to an agreement without having to go to trial or otherwise engaging in an adversarial process.

Unlike traditional litigation, the parties in a collaborative divorce don’t engage in discovery (where each side exchanges information). While you will share certain information, it isn’t done in an antagonistic way. You won’t have to go through depositions or a trial.

In a collaborative divorce, both parties agree to resolve all issues related to the dissolution of their marriage in a respectful and amicable way outside of the courtroom. Each side is typically represented by an experienced attorney.

If the parties can’t agree to these terms, then a collaborative divorce probably isn’t the best option. There are certain situations – such as relationships where one partner is alleged to be abusive – when collaborative divorce may not be a good or safe way to proceed.

Before deciding on this style of divorce, you should have a frank conversation with your Barrington divorce lawyer about whether you believe that both you and your spouse can engage in the process in good faith.

You are not required to have an attorney to go through the collaborative divorce process. However, it is usually considered a good idea to have legal representation, and more specifically, a collaborative divorce lawyer.

Your attorney can provide more neutral advice and help achieve a resolution more easily because they are not tied up in the emotions many divorcing couples experience. A lawyer can also advise you of your rights under Illinois law, and how a particular settlement agreement will affect you legally.

Why Collaborative Divorce in Illinois?

Collaborative Law book on table with gavel and glasses

Divorce arises when the relationship between spouses is broken. This is a very difficult thing to deal with and, by nature, litigation is an adversarial process.

Many people prefer to find a solution through a collaborative process, allowing them to resolve their issues without adding any more acrimony to the process. 

Collaborative divorce is ideal for situations where children are involved. Instead of fighting over physical and legal custody, child support, and other issues, the parents work together to figure out a plan in the best interests of their children.

Choosing collaborative divorce can help parents maintain a friendly relationship that will continue as they move forward to co-parent their children together over the coming years. 

Collaborative divorce is also more conducive to bringing in experts other than lawyers to address issues involving children, finance, and property. The process takes a holistic approach to preparing all parties for life after divorce. Additionally, due to its cooperative nature, collaborative divorce usually costs significantly less than a litigated divorce.

Lawrence talks about divorce and the impact of children in a divorce:

What Happens During a Collaborative Divorce?

Now that you understand a little more about what collaborative divorce is and why it can be beneficial, the next step is to learn about how it works. Broadly, in a collaborative divorce, the parties will meet to try to work out a divorce agreement. The meetings are structured, but they are not adversarial; the goal is for both spouses to work together on issues like property division and parenting time.

Instead of you and your spouse (and your attorneys) taking adversarial sides, in a collaborative divorce, everyone works together toward reaching a final settlement that protects everyone’s interests.

You and your spouse will sign an agreement promising to work together in good faith to negotiate a settlement. You will then work with your attorneys and other experts, including accountants, child specialists, and counselors, to negotiate agreements related to:

During these meetings, the focus won’t be on what each side is “entitled to” or what they could get if they took the case to court. Instead, the parties look at each spouse’s needs and interests. If there are children involved, then they also look at the best interests of the children. During the collaborative process, you will work on a settlement that not only takes your current needs into account, but your future needs as well. 

For example, consider a situation where a divorcing couple has one minor child who has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. In a traditional divorce, the parties might fight over issues like who gets primary physical custody of the child, who pays for insurance, and other matters. In a collaborative divorce, the parties will instead look at what would be best for their child – such as him staying in the same home, attending the same school, and keeping the same therapists. The ultimate agreement may not be what a court would decide – but it will be designed to protect the interests of the child.

Throughout the process, the parties may consult with professionals and experts who can help with specific aspects of the divorce. In the example above, the parties may consult with a child psychologist who can offer their opinion on how to make sure to minimize any disruption to the child during the transition. Accountants or financial planners can also be brought in to offer their advice on dividing assets and debt, and how that will affect each spouse.

Even if you and your spouse can work together during this time, it is still important to work with experienced attorneys so that you can be sure you do not agree to anything that is not in your best interests. At Manassa Law, we are ready to help you and your spouse get through your divorce and move on to the next chapter in your lives with confidence.  With partner Lawrence S. Manassa serving as a fellow with the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois, you can be sure that you will be working with a lawyer who has the proper training for this unique area of the law.

Once the parties come to an agreement, then the lawyers will work together to draft the necessary documentation. The final agreement will be signed by both parties. Your attorneys will then submit it to the court for approval and entry of a judgment of divorce.

A Process That Will Protect Your Interests

The easiest way to explain why collaborative divorce works for many couples is that it empowers you to work out a solution that protects your legal rights and interests. Additionally:

  • It will save you a great amount of money and time compared to traditional litigation because you will be sharing experts and not making nearly as many court visits.
  • It will allow you and your spouse to maintain control over the process, instead of leaving crucial decisions in the hands of a judge.
  • By working together now, you will be able to work together more effectively in the future, which will be necessary if you have children.
  • It will minimize stress and acrimony.

For couples who have children, nasty, bitter child custody disputes can leave children with conflicting emotions about their parents. By working together and realizing how important both of your relationships are with your children, there will be a better chance that they will be able to adjust to their new circumstances more easily.

Is Collaborative Divorce in Illinois Right For You?

Attorney Larry Manassa
Collaborative Divorce Lawyer in Illinois, Larry Manassa

Collaborative divorce isn’t always the best option for every couple who is going through a divorce. If you and your STBX have an acrimonious relationship, if they are a narcissist or abusive, or if you simply can’t agree on big issues like who gets the house or parenting time, then collaborative divorce probably won’t work for you. However, if you have a good relationship with your spouse and want to save time and money and minimize stress,  then collaborative divorce could be an ideal option for your family.
At Manassa Law, we have significant experience in all aspects of Illinois family law – including collaborative divorce. Our Barrington divorce lawyers understand that divorce doesn’t have to be treated like war and that working together with your spouse can often be the best way to get divorced – particularly if there are children involved.  For answers to your questions about collaborative divorce, give our law offices a call at 866-390-0672 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation with a Barrington collaborative divorce attorney.