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Illinois recognizes, sets standards for collaborative divorce

The end of a marriage is often envisioned as a courtroom battle filled with raw emotions. This is not without reason: for many years, litigation has been a necessary part of the divorce process. However, Illinois recently passed a law officially recognizing an alternative to traditional divorce litigation that may be an option for some divorcing Rockford couples.

The alternative is called collaborative divorce. It is a process that our state has joined a dozen other states in officially recognizing. The recently-passed Illinois Collaborative Process Act provides standards which legal, mental health and financial professionals may share with their divorcing clients interested in a collaborative divorce. It will boost the visibility of collaborative divorce and make it more accessible.

Former partners who have gone through a collaborative divorce describe it using terms like clean, uncomplicated, and easier in many ways than the dark stories commonly related of traditional divorce. In fact, the divorcing couple does not need to appear in court until the very end of the collaborative process, and then for what may be a brief session of signing documents and finalizing the agreement. It may take as little as 10 minutes in court. And there is more good news: collaborative divorce frequently saves couples money.

For all of the benefits, collaborative divorce is not for everyone. Couples hiding things from each other (money, for example, or secrets), who do not trust each other or who cannot work together civilly are not good candidates. But for those who are at peace with the fact that the marriage is at an end, and who wish to move on amicably and respectfully, collaborative divorce is worth a look. We'll talk about what actually happens during the process in a follow-up post.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Column: New law gives thumbs up for amicable divorce process," Jackie Pilossoph, Oct. 18, 2017

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