Divorce Attorney

What is the role of a lawyer in a collaborative divorce in Illinois?

You and your spouse will each have your own collaborative lawyer, who acts as an educator and a guide throughout the collaborative divorce process – not just someone driving a settlement. Your lawyer’s responsibilities will include:
  • Advising you about the divorce process
  • Helping you clarify and communicate effectively about your goals, interests, concerns and values
  • Advocating for and with you in all stages of the collaborative divorce process.
Does my lawyer represent me in court?

Illinois Collaborative divorce lawyers are there to help the couple get the best possible agreement. The collaborative process is outside of the court system, with the exception of the final court appearance – which is known in Illinois as the prove-up of the divorce. At the prove-up the court hears evidence regarding the marital settlement agreement and enters a judgment for dissolution of marriage (divorce judgment). Other than this court appearance, the collaborative lawyers can never represent either you or your spouse in adversarial divorce proceedings against the other.

How do I work with my attorney? How do the attorneys work with each other?

While the collaborative lawyers work individually with their own clients in all stages of their representation, the work of sharing information and arriving at solutions is done in meetings that both lawyers and both spouses attend. You will consult privately with your lawyer to help you clarify your interests and priorities before bringing them to the collaborative table for discussion. The lawyers will often speak with with each other before meetings to ensure that the meetings are productive. The lawyers in collaborative divorce only negotiate settlements with both you and your spouse at the table and actively participating in the negotiations.

In Collaborative Divorce: The Revolutionary New Way to Restructure Your Family, Resolve Legal Issues and Move on with Your Life
Pauline Tesler and Peggy Thomsen put it this way:

"Remember, your collaborative lawyer spends 100% of his or her time, energy and creativity helping you get to a settlement. …."

"Take the time to find the best collaborative lawyer you can locate, and encourage your spouse to do the same. The best collaborative lawyers, in our experience, encourage their clients to take the long view and to work toward solutions that will work fifteen to twenty years later."

Content adapted with permission from Collaborative Divorce, by Pauline Tesler and Peggy Thompsen.


© Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois
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