In this article, we’ll discuss the alternatives to divorce in Illinois including collaborative divorce, litigation and mediation.
Going through a divorce can be an emotional and expensive process, even for seemingly-simple couples. If you’re looking to separate from your partner and would like to avoid the traditional divorce route, consider the following options.
Collaborative divorce is a process where both spouses have a lawyer representing their individual interests throughout the entire separation process. In a collaborative divorce, each party receives immediate legal advice to their advantage as the divorce progresses. The two lawyers handle the majority of the discussions, and the “four-way meetings” are focused on solving problems and finding resolutions, rather than fighting over belongings, financials and events. In collaborative divorce, it is important to be open and honest with your attorney, as any lack of information could negatively effect the results and only elongate the process. By allowing two legal professionals to effectively address the situation at hand, spouses can remove themselves from much of the proceedings and decision making, which can assist in avoiding the emotional sting and time-consumption of a traditional divorce.
For more on this, check out our article, Illinois Collaborative Law Divorce Explained.
Litigated divorce is the most common and traditional form of separation. “Litigation” is a legal term simply meaning, “carrying out a lawsuit.” Divorce may enter litigation when the divorce is being legal contested - by one party or both - within court. Divorce often ends in litigation as most divorces are one-sided, meaning one person wants the divorce and the other does not. If you and your spouse had a less-than-favorable separation and you do not think you can come to a reasonable settlement, going to court may be your only option. Before filing a lawsuit, it’s best to attempt a collaborative or mediation approach. Litigation can be extremely costly, have a negative affect on your children, and also end with a judge who knows very little about your situation making final decisions about some of the most important aspects of your life.
For more on this, check out: The Illinois Divorce Process Explained.
Divorce is extremely complicated, and while many couples believe they have the process and finances figured out, Do-It-Yourself Divorces can lead to unnecessary expenses and psychological pain as well as unbalanced results that one or both parties will later regret or wish to change. Without a lawyer, mistakes and oversights can very easily be made. Oftentimes, these mistakes are irreversible and life altering. If you and your spouse have come to peace with your separation, have little to no assets or debts to be divided, and do not have any children together, DIY Divorce may be an easy way to divorce quickly and inexpensively. However, you should always have your own attorney review any final documents before filing.
Divorce mediation happens when a divorcing couple hires one neutral mediator to oversee both parties’ assets. In this scenario, the mediator doesn’t necessarily have to be a lawyer. They should, however, be extremely knowledgeable in both divorce law and family law. This neutral individual is not meant to provide legal guidance, but to encourage agreement and mutual respect. A mediator may be a strong option for couples who want to remove themselves from some of the decision making but also want to avoid the high price that could be attached to other options. Mediation is also sometimes desirable for the privacy it offers as mediation is not a matter of public record and can be kept very private. Because of this, mediation is often taken by higher profile couples who fear that a public divorce may impact their public perception or business. If you are considering mediation, always make sure your mediator truly is a neutral party who knows what they’re doing and consider hiring an attorney as your mediator to assure that they are knowledgeable and objective.
For more on this, check out: Illinois Family Mediation Explained.