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How does collaborative law work in Illinois?

Divorce is a wrenching process. You are separating from a person you had planned to spend the rest of your life with. Now you have to plan who gets what assets, how the debt will be distributed and how will you share the children's time.

There is a process called collaborative law that makes the act of divorcing a little easier. In Illinois, you must have representation, as does your spouse, in order to begin the process of meeting together to make decisions about the issues mentioned earlier. Collaborative law means that you won't have a judge making life altering decisions for you.

Illinois law states that you both must sign an agreement to work together, with counsel present, to decide the issues that come up. It means that you and your spouse will need to meet on an ongoing basis in order to avoid having the court tell you where your kids will live and with whom, how your debt will be divided and what assets you get to keep. It can be a great process that allows you to see that your best interests are met.

Full financial disclosure must be made by both parties and decisions can be negotiated, with your counsel's assistance, regarding the distribution of all property and any assets you and your spouse both own. If you have assets that you came into the marriage with or that you inherited while you were married, that is for you to keep and doesn't need to be discussed. You must still disclose it and be prepared to prove that it was yours or that you inherited it.

If you decide in the middle of the process that it just isn't working, you can go before the judge and tell him or her that you have decided to bring the divorce before the court.

You may want to contact a legal professional who has your best interests in mind and can answer the many questions that you surely will have if you are in a divorce situation.

Source: Illinois Divorce Statutes, "Dissolution and legal separation" Jan. 30, 2015

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Goddard & Malmquist
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