Today more Chicago couples are turning to collaborative divorce. For most of us, the word “divorce” brings to mind lengthy court battles, tens of thousands of dollars spent on attorneys’ fees, heartbreak, anger, and endless custody disputes. While it is true many of those cases exist, there are couples who would like to take a holistic and collaborative approach to the dissolution of their marriage. For those couples, Illinois Supreme Court Rule 294 should make collaborative divorce is a more effective option.
While collaborative divorce has been used for a while in Illinois, the process was not enacted into law until August of 2017 and the statute did not become effective until January 1, 2018. The statute is 750 ILCS 90/1. Pursuant to the new statute, each party must sign an agreement meeting the requirements of the statute that sets out the parameters and each parties’ intentions.
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The Collaborative Divorce Process – How It Works
In a collaborative divorce, both parties are represented by an attorney who has had training as a collaborative attorney. Typically, there will also be an accountant, psychologist, and possibly even a child specialist if children are involved. These individuals make up the collaborative divorce team. Through the collaborative divorce process, couples meet with their attorneys and their team to discuss their goals and what they would like to achieve. The couple works together to create a settlement and work through any issues to resolve the marriage in everyone’s best interest.
Similarities to Divorce Mediation
The process is similar to mediation. However, there is no third party mediator, just the collaborative team and the parties. The Court cannot order parties to do a collaborative divorce. The parties can agree to keep communications in the collaborative process confidential if they wish. The Court does not need to approve the agreement; however, will need to if the parties wish for their agreement to be enforceable.
Rule 294 and Disqualification of Lawyers Serving in Collaborative Process
On June 8, 2018, the Supreme Court of Illinois adopted a new Rule regarding attorneys representing clients in the collaborative divorce process. Illinois Supreme Court Rule 294 disqualifies attorneys, and their law firms from representing any parties in litigation that they previously represented in the collaborative divorce process.
Supporting the Collaborative Divorce Process
This rule helps to give weight to the collaborative divorce process. One of the main attractions to collaborative divorce is that it is generally less expensive than traditional divorce where litigation is involved. While you are still paying attorneys and have a collaborative team, the collaborative law approach does away with the extra expenses related to drafting motions, extensive research, and time spent in Court. Instead, the time is spent by the parties negotiating and working towards a joint agreement.
Now that Supreme Court Rule 294 is in place, lawyers have an extra incentive to ensure their clients are working things out and abiding by their collaborative law agreement.
Incentive to Make Your Collaborative Divorce a Success
Pursuant to this new rule, neither the attorney, nor their law firm may represent a client who they previously represented in the collaborative divorce process. If the clients chose to litigate, they must find a new attorney and a new law firm. This new rule serves as an incentive to the attorney and as an incentive to the parties participating as well not to withdraw form the collaborative process. Most individuals do not want to switch attorneys mid-way through a dissolution of marriage. Most attorneys want to keep their clients. This new rule makes it more difficult to withdraw from the collaborative process; thereby, giving more importance to the collaborative process itself.
While collaborative divorce is relatively new, this new rule should strengthen the collaborative process and make it more enticing to individuals who are serious about avoiding a long drawn out litigation and resolve the matter between themselves instead of having the Court determine their fate.
If you are facing divorce or have questions about the process of divorce in Illinois, we can help. Contact Anderson & Boback to schedule confidential consultation and learn more about divorce and if the collaborative divorce process is right for your situation.