Collaborative divorce is a dispute resolution method in which each party hires an attorney and both parties and their attorneys work together in a cooperative, non-adversarial process. The mutual goal is to reach a fair settlement of all issues, while avoiding the emotional and financial expense of traditional litigation. The parties and attorneys agree to communicate and negotiate directly with one another in structured four-way settlement meetings. The parties must both agree to voluntarily disclose all financial and other relevant information, to proceed respectfully and in good faith, and to refrain from the threat or use of litigation. Key to the process is the agreement that if either party chooses to go to court, both collaborative attorneys must withdraw.
Collaborative attorneys are specifically trained as settlement specialists. When necessary, experts are brought into the process as coaches, financial advisors and child specialists. The goal of the experts is to educate the parties and explore settlement options to meet the needs of both parties and their children.
This process encourages creative problem solving, win-win negotiations, and resolutions that meet the needs of all members of the family. It offers a much greater potential for creative problem solving than traditional litigation. Most significantly, the parties are directly involved in the process and retain control over their outcome.
Patti S. Levinson is a collaboratively trained attorney, is a Fellow in the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois and a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.
For more information on the collaborative law process please contact our office or visit www.collaborativepractice.com; www.collablawil.org.
> Traditional Litigation