While the term Collaborative Divorce is unfamiliar to many, the concept of collaborative law and collaborative divorce has been around for decades and is growing in popularity with divorcing spouses. Collaborative Divorce offers divorcing spouses an opportunity to avoid litigation and court intervention by providing a structure that guides spouses through the divorce process with a series of meetings focused on reaching property division and parenting agreements that align with the goals of the parties.
The goals set by collaborative divorce participants often focus on whole-family considerations. Examples of goals commonly set by Collaborative Divorce participants are below:
- Maintaining the home to ensure stability for the children;
- Keeping the children in the same school district;
- Maintaining or creating effective communication for co-parenting;
- Desire to avoid costly litigation;
- Desire to keep the process amicable.
Collaborative Divorce can be significantly less adversarial, which often can shorten the divorce timeline and save the parties money.
In a Collaborative Divorce a “team” approach is utilized. The purpose of the team is to assist and guide the parties through the collaborative divorce process and help the parties develop agreements that achieve their declared goals. A collaborative divorce team consists of, at minimum two Attorneys, and often also one or two Coaches, a Financial Neutral, and a Child Specialist, if needed. The collaborative process requires all team members to be collaboratively trained and credentialed in their respective professions.
To participate in a Collaborative Divorce, both parties must retain a collaboratively trained attorney.
Coaches are collaboratively trained and credentialed mental health professionals who assist the parties with the management of emotions, to strengthen communication, assist with parenting and co-parenting skills and communication, and to keep meetings productive by identifying ineffective behaviors. One or two coaches may be employed for these purposes.
A Financial Neutral is a collaboratively trained credentialed financial advisor whose role is to assess the parties’ financial situation and help both parties understand the marital finances. The Financial Neutral will also discuss the property division scenarios and the financial impact and consequence(s) for each party. As the title implies, a Financial Neutral is neutral and is not on either parties’ “side.”
The Child Specialists is a neutral team member which the divorcing spouses agree upon when selecting. It is the role of the Child Specialist to bring the children’s voices to the divorce process and assists the parties with child development issues, if needed. The Child Specialist often maintains an ongoing relationship with the parents and is available to assist them with parenting issues after the collaborative process is complete.
The Collaborative Divorce process requires all participating parties and professionals to sign a Collaborative Process Participation Agreement which sets forth the guidelines for participation and helps the parties to commit fully to the Collaborative Divorce process.
Nichole M. Waltz, received her training from the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois in 2012 and has been an active Fellow with the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois since the completion of her training. Nichole has participated in many Collaborative Divorce teams with successful outcomes.
Should you have any questions about the Collaborative Divorce process or any other family law, please contact Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC at (847)253-8800.
Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC is a full-service law firm with various areas of service to assist your business, including: Employment Law, Intellectual Property, Commercial Real Estate, Business Immigration, Litigation and general Business Law services. Individual services include Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts, Probate, Guardianship, Divorce and Family Law.
This article constitutes attorney advertising. The material is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.