Is Alternative Dispute Resolution Right for My Divorce?
In recent years, the movement to get divorces out of the courtroom has gained significant momentum. Alternatives like mediation and collaborative divorce have attracted a growing number of supporters, but there are just as many who are unsure of the benefits of these relatively new approaches. Before making a decision either way, it is important to understand the features of all the methods so that you can get a better sense of what might be right for you and your divorce.
Courtrooms Offer Familiarity
The divorce process in an Illinois courtroom has changed little over the years, even as the laws relative to divorce have changed significantly. To initiate divorce proceedings, you or your spouse must file a petition in the relevant county court, and from there, the other may either respond or choose not to contest the divorce. Judgment will be entered if and when a court is able to verify that irreconcilable differences have resulted in an “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage.
The process for a litigated divorce is set forth in Illinois law, so there are few if any surprises. Its structure is also fairly rigid, which could be necessary for some couples who might otherwise have problems staying on task. However, the disadvantages can be significant. Family court dockets in most counties are perpetually full and notoriously slow-moving, and control over the process is, to a certain degree, taken out of your and your spouse’s hands. You are expected to allow the divorce to proceed via communications between your attorneys, so if you are the type of couple who prefer to hash out problems one on one, a courtroom divorce may frustrate you.
Mediation and Collaborative Divorce Offer Innovation
Compared to courtroom proceedings, mediation and collaborative divorce have the potential to move faster, which can be a significant advantage to some couples. Mediation in particular has become popular, since the pace and time investment are almost entirely at the couple’s discretion. Once all issues are settled, the process is complete, whether it takes one session or ten. Mediation also has the advantage that if the process does ultimately turn out to be unsuccessful, all communications engaged in during the mediation are privileged, meaning they cannot be used against you in a later courtroom proceeding.
Collaborative divorce is still considered somewhat experimental in some circles, and it can be relatively expensive. The process is undertaken with a team of sorts—usually including an attorney, a financial coach, and possibly an expert on child development if there are children of the marriage—that will work with the couple to reach a resolution. When collaborative divorce works, the process tends to result in fewer post-divorce disputes, but due to the cumbersome nature of the “team” aspect, it is not the right choice for every situation. If the process fails, each spouse must secure new counsel, as communications are not privileged in collaborative divorce.
Need Help Determining Your Best Choice?
While each potential method has its advantages and disadvantages, only you can make the final choice. A knowledgeable lawyer can help you determine the best option for your unique situation. Contact an experienced Kane County alternative dispute resolution attorney to discuss your case today. Call 630-549-0960 for a confidential consultation.