For clients who have determined that they will divorce, consultation about the options available in Illinois prior to hiring an attorney is important. Each option has advantages and considerations based on the requirements and desires of your family. Meeting with a qualified professional divorce practitioner who can educate and help you explore the options will make all the difference. Both complicated requirements and unexpected impasses are the nature of divorce proceeding of any type. Rushing forward without careful consideration of your choices will not only result in added time but often in added costs-emotionally and financially.
With traditional litigation both parties hire separate counsel who act as their advocates and representatives in all matters relating to the divorce. The process is governed by the court calendar and requirements that documents, motions, and petitions are filed and reported on. Once the petition is filed, the case is a matter of public record and fees and costs simply to meet the requirements of the court are initiated. Attorneys will have to respond to motions and report to the judge assigned to your case on a regular schedule as determined by the Court.
Litigation seeks to protect the individual client and their interests in a win-lose model. Litigation requires financial disclosure that is more rigorous than other options. This can frequently be an important safeguard in situations where trust is lacking between the couple. It is also, of course, more expensive and time-consuming. This is why most divorces that involve property take years, not months.
Uncontested divorce,also called DIY Divorce or the Court's term: "Pro Se"
Clients have the right to bypass counsel and represent themselves in court. Clients may choose to seek legal counsel about the procedural elements in seeking a divorce, but they represent their own interests and appear in court on their own. There are resources availble at the Courthouse to assist couples in self-representation. Although no legal advice is available, the Illinois Lake County Law Library has all the forms needed to divorce. Addtionally, there is a Guide for Family Law Cases available on 19th Judical Court (Lake County) website. It was written by a committee of the Illinois Lake County Bar and Lake County Family Law Judges.
A hybrid model of traditional litigation and self-representation is when the couple to hires just one attorney to draft the divorce documents. In this case, neither of the couple would have the benefit of being represented as the attorney would be acting only as a scribe.
Alternative Dispute Resolution models
Divorce and Co-Parenting Mediation
Considered favorably by families and Judges, mediation works well when parties are behaving more rationally than irrationally and are willing to fairly compromise. Mediation will not work well in settings of power imbalances or when one spouse is not ready to reach decisions or let go of the marriage.
Mediation is a dispute resolution process in which a neutral 3rd person helps the parties reach an agreement by focusing on the key issues in a case, exchanging information between the parties and exploring options for settlement.The Mediator does not have the power to impose a settlement. It is a cooperative and voluntary process, and either of the parties or the Mediator can terminate the process at any time.
Collaborative Divorce brings together a team of specially trained lawyers, mental health professionals, and financial advisors who work with each spouse to reach a fair agreement with privacy and respect. The Collaborative Process focuses on preventing court battles and on helping spouses solve problems jointly. Collaborative Divorce provides couples with attorneys that have signed a written agreement to prioritize reaching agreement. As a Collaborative Divorce Coach, I work with couples to facilitate the process and provide useful strategies to navigate the current and future relationship.
Another option would be to meet individually with me so I can help you understand the different options available to you if you decide to part. This is better done as a couple if you both have made a final decision. In closing, regardless of the option you chose, you will need to compromise. You will find it is very costly in every possible way to think otherwise. Feel free to call to set a time to talk in greater detail.