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Can a divorce really be amicable?

You may not have believed it a few decades ago, but these days, it is quite possible to have an amicable divorce.

Not only is the cost of an amicable divorce easier on the pocketbook, a generally accepting attitude and willingness to be fairly agreeable can also be far less costly to your spirit and heart as well.

What's the difference?

Traditionally, divorces were litigated -- fought out in court. That meant that there had to be someone at fault for the divorce and a clear winner and loser at the end of the day.

The advent of the no-fault divorce has gradually given rise to what many people suspected might happen: Divorces have become easier.

That isn't the same as saying that people are opting for divorce as a way to avoid working on their marriage. Instead, it's acknowledging that collaborative divorces, where both parties do their best to remember that they used to be in love with each other, can happen if people are given the opportunity to have one.

Can you do that in Illinois?

The collaborative divorce has gained momentum, especially among couples who don't have the assets for a long court fight and don't have the inclination to waste money litigating over small stuff (like who keeps the wedding china that's been used exactly twice in five years).

Once regarded with a little suspicion, legally, collaborative divorces have gained the respect of lawmakers everywhere. For example, the Illinois Collaborative Process Act was just passed -- giving official sanction to this unique style of divorce. Having the statute in place gives the collaborative divorce more credibility, stronger guidelines to follow (making it easier to give clients predictable outcomes) and greater visibility.

What should you expect?

Here's how a collaborative divorce usually plays out:

  • Attorneys are hired to help settle the case.
  • If there are any complex financial issues, a financial specialist is brought in. Similarly, other experts could be brought in to deal with issues like child custody and parenting plans.
  • The divorcing couple retains full control over their divorce -- instead of handing it over to a judge or jury.
  • Typically, the only appearance in front of a judge is at the end, when the judge signs off on all agreements.

An attorney can provide more information on how to have a collaborative, amicable divorce.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Column: New law gives thumbs up for amicable divorce process," Jackie Pilossoph, Oct. 18, 2017

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