The recession has forced many families to severely limit their disposable income and to make sacrifices they never intended on making. We have heard countless stories of people wanting or needing legal assistance with their divorce, but being intimidated by the expected legal fees. Our offices frequently work with clients who are in the midst of financial difficulties. When the circumstances are appropriate, we are often able to save our clients money by pursing divorce through the Collaborative Law Process. The Collaborative Law Process is popular with many of our clients because it reduces much of the conflict and the potential for aggressive legal tactics that may arise in other divorce proceedings. By creating an open space for individuals to share their thoughts, the Collaborative Law Process helps foster compromise, which benefits both parties and their children.
To quickly recap:
• The Collaborative Law Process is a problem solving process that emphasizes communication and information sharing between all involved parties. A collaborative divorce is a divorce that uses the Collaborative Law Process.
• A collaborative divorce is not just a divorce with more dialogue and it is not a divorce in which you and your spouse sit down with a single attorney.
• A collaborative divorce will bring you, your spouse, and your respective collaboratively trained attorneys together to reach a mutually-acceptable divorce agreement. You may also elect to bring in outside collaboratively trained third parties, such as financial neutrals, child specialists, or divorce coaches, to help with the decision making process.
• A decision to pursue collaborative divorce means that issues between you and your spouse will not be resolved in court. You will only go to court to finalize your divorce and have your marital settlement agreement and any other related agreements entered by the court.
The Collaborative Law Process can potentially save you and your spouse money if each of you fully commits to the process. This typically means sharing all relevant financial data and being willing to compromise on important issues like maintenance, child support, custody, and property division. If you and your spouse believe you are unable to openly cooperate with each other, then a collaborative divorce may not be right.
A collaborative divorce is only as good as the attorneys who assist with the case. Whether you choose to work with our office or hire a different attorney, it is important that you research your attorney’s background and training to determine if he or she is able and qualified to assist you with your collaborative divorce.
Research Your Collaborative Divorce Lawyer’s Training
The Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois is an umbrella organization that provides training and resources to collaboratively trained attorneys. Membership in the organization is a sign that your attorney has undergone the necessary training to learn and understand the process and that he or she continues to study and remain current in the Collaborative Law Process. You can verify whether your attorney is a member by visiting CLII’s homepage and searching for your attorney’s name in the right hand column. You probably should not hire an attorney for a collaborative divorce if there is no evidence that he or she has undergone the necessary training and stays current on developments in collaborative law.
Your Attorney Must Have Experience In The Collaborative Law Method
This should be obvious, but it bears repeating. If your attorney has only handled a few collaborative divorce cases, he or she may not be as knowledgeable or resourceful as a more seasoned attorney. You should feel comfortable asking about your attorney’s experience in collaborative law. An experienced collaboratively trained attorney will also have knowledge of a vast array of financial advisors, divorce coaches, and child specialists to assist with your divorce. Only experience will permit your attorney to determine which ones are the best choice for your family.
You Must Have A Good Relationship With Your Attorney
This may be the most important point. The Collaborative Law Process emphasizes communication and cooperation. If you do not feel comfortable with your attorney, you probably shouldn’t hire him or her, for any purpose. Take time researching your choices before hiring an attorney and try your best to learn as much about his or her approach as possible. You will be glad that you did.