“We are filing for divorce very soon. What are your best tips so that we can avoid going to court.”
Filing for divorce isn’t easy, and if the two of you wish to avoid going to court, go Collaborative. The best way for divorcing couples to stay out of court is to contact Collaborative attorneys who will explain to both of you how to reach a reasonable and mutually satisfactory settlement through the Collaborative process. All Collaborative professionals, including lawyers, divorce coaches, family specialists, and financial neutrals, must sign a Participation Agreement that prevents them from taking your case to court under any circumstances. This does not prevent either of you to change your minds and go to litigation, but it does prevent the Collaborative professionals from being called to testify as witnesses or be deposed in your case. The Collaborative process also keeps the details of your divorce private. Because court files are public, all motions and pleadings made by both sides during litigation are open to public scrutiny. In the Collaborative process, there are no motions or pleadings so only the final agreement is in the court file. Also, many Collaborative settlement agreements are drafted to remain private by keeping the details of the financial settlement out of the main agreement and offering them as an Exhibit to the judge at the actual court hearing for the divorce. This exhibit may be scrutinized by the judge to determine whether it is “fair and not unconscionable” (the Illinois standard), and then returned to the parties and their counsel instead of including it in the court record.
By choosing the Collaborative process, you will have the opportunity to craft parenting agreements that are truly in the best interests of your children. Instead of resolving differences on parenting questions through the cumbersome court process, which often results in having the judge in your case appoint attorneys for the minor children and order family evaluations (which cost thousands of dollars and more often than not result in polarizing the parents while traumatizing the children), the Collaborative process allows parents to work with a neutral parenting specialist, Collaboratively trained, to help guide them as they work out differences.
Like the proverbial pebble tossed into a pond, the ripple effect of litigation spreads out in many directions. Instead, by choosing the Collaborative process you give yourselves, your children, your family and your friends the opportunity to remain connected to both of you after your divorce.
If you are not familiar with Collaborative practice, check out the website of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP) at www.collaborativepractice.com for more information and to find Collaborative professionals in your area. You will also find the names and contact information of local Collaborative professionals in this magazine.