COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE - A KINDER, GENTLER DIVORCE
Shia Kapos had an interesting article in this week’s Crain’s Chicago Business on the “collaborative divorce”. Collaborative divorce started in Minnesota about 20 years ago. The objective of a collaborative divorce is to expedite the divorce process, while minimizing the drama and dollars associated with the traditional divorce. Here is how it works – the parties agree to work with divorce lawyers who have received specialized training in collaborative divorce law. Then the parties, and lawyers, sit down, [with the help of financial experts and life coaches[?]] and eventually work out an agreement that is then presented to a judge for approval. If successful, a collaborative divorce generally costs only half of what a traditional divorce will run.
The jury is out as to whether this concept is catching on in Illinois. Only 7% of the divorces filed in 2008 used the collaborative approach. But when parties do decide to try collaboration, it usually works, with only 5% of collaborative divorces having to ultimately return to the traditional divorce approach.
Some lawyers like it. James Galvin, one of the founders of the Collaborative Law Institute of Ilinois noted that the process “allows clients to make decisions about their lives instead of lawyers or judges” Some lawyers aren’t impressed. David Novoselsky was involved in a divorce with Mr. Galvin on the other side. It started out as a collaborative divorce, but eventually the parties wound up in traditional litigation. “[Collaborative divorce is] a boondoogle,” Novoselsky said. “Collaborative law is the North Shore trend of the week. If you have two reasonable people and two decent lawyers who are interested in helping clients, you don’t need to go through this formal process that’s been named “collaborative law”.
Susan Schwallie, a food market researcher went through a collaborative divorce in 2007 and had a positive experience. But, as the article noted, she still felt like she got the short end of the marriage deal. “No matter how you do it, you feel that way,” she noted. “It’s not just financial or material loss. It’s a loss all the way around.”