Family lawyer Sandra M Rosenbloom discusses collaborative divorce help in Illinois and how its outcome differs from mediation. To understand which may be best for you, both collaborative divorce and mediation are explained.
“Can collaborative law help me settle my divorce more amicably? How is it different from mediation?”
“Amicable” and “divorce” do not have to be incompatible words. A broken marriage does not have to result in a broken family. If you can work towards cooperation, you will find that the result is always more amicable than litigation.
Collaborative Divorce and mediation are processes that incorporate cooperation. Both also share a common goal: to keep decision-making in the hands of the people who will be most affected by those decisions. Where Collaborative Divorce and mediation differ is the path that each process takes to help the parties reach this goal. Mediation lessens the risk of litigation; the collaborative process strives to eliminate it.
Attorneys practicing Collaborative Divorce are committed to settling marital and family disputes without litigation. Once a couple chooses the collaborative process, each retains his or her own separate, collaboratively-trained attorney. Each attorney then signs a contract binding the attorney from representing the client in court for any adversarial reason related to this issue or being called as a witness in the case.
Shedding their traditional adversarial roles, the lawyers work with the husband and wife as a team to resolve divorce- or child-related problems and to craft a settlement that will be in the best interests of the entire family. The husband and wife, and their respective attorneys, attend settlement-negotiation conferences together. When advisable, the “team” may decide to seek outside expert advice from financial neutrals, coaches, or child or family therapists. Unlike the litigation process, experts are brought on board to help the family, not to help one side against the other. Mediators may also be brought in to work through any impasses that may develop.
Collaboratively-trained attorneys can advise and suggest; mediators are ethically prevented from giving legal advice. Because of the need for at least one lawyer to draft and file the divorce papers and conclude the case in court (it is important to remember that ethically, one lawyer can only represent one client), divorce mediation does not dispense with the need for lawyers. Occasionally, after completing mediation and reaching a settlement, a couple may have to go back to mediation or even abandon it for the traditional, adversarial litigation process because they failed to adequately address legal issues during the process.
Litigation pits one spouse against the other. It usually leads to divisiveness. Mediation and collaborative law give a choice “outside the box” of litigation to divorcing couples. Having these choices helps divorcing couples feel empowered, not overpowered, by the process. Making these choices gives a husband and wife the opportunity to work cooperatively — and yes, even amicably — together to end their marriage without ending their family.
Still need more help with the divorce process in Illinois? Read the article: Podcast: Preparing for Divorce in Illinois to better understand how it all works.
Sandra M Rosenbloom concentrates on Mediation and Collaborative Family Law at her Northfield, IL office.
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