On August 18, 2017, the State of Illinois passed the Illinois Collaborative Process Act, in an effort to promote using the Collaborative process to settle more cases in the State of Illinois. This law will go into effect on January 1, 2018. Collaborative Process is a method of settling family law issues whereby the parties each hire a collaborative law attorney and a team of experts to help them amicably settle their case. The new law defines a “collaborative process matter” as “a dispute transaction, claim, problem, or issue for resolution, including a dispute, claim, or issue in a proceeding, which is described in a collaborative process participation agreement and arises under the family or domestic relations law of this State, including: (A) marriage, divorce, dissolution, annulment, legal separation, and property distribution; (B) significant decision making and parenting time of children; (C) maintenance and child support; (D) adoption; (E) parentage; and (F) premarital, marital, and post-marital agreements. If the parties elect to use the collaborative process to resolve their family law dispute, both the parties and their collaborative lawyers will consult with a team of experts to help them resolve their issues outside of court. This team of experts can vary from case to case depending on the issues involved, but will usually involve a divorce coach for divorce cases to help guide the parties through the process, various financial experts to help the parties agree upon any financial issues, or various child specialists to help the parties agree upon parenting issues.
The purpose of using the Collaborative Process is to settle your case without having to litigate your issues in court. In order to engage in the Collaborative Divorce process, the parties must sign an agreement indicating they will use the Collaborative Divorce Process to settle their case and will not go to Court. If at any point the parties are unable to settle the case, and the case is brought to court, the parties' Collaborative team, including each of their Collaborative Law attorneys, will be unable to continue working on their case. Under the new law, this agreement is called a “collaborative process participation agreement,” and is defined as “a written agreement by persons acting with informed consent to participate in a collaborative process, in which the persons agree to discharge their collaborative process lawyer and law firm if the collaborative process fails." As a result, if the parties agree to use the Collaborative process and are unable to reach an agreement, they must hire new attorneys to litigate the issues in court for them. If you have any questions regarding your family law issue, feel free to contact our office at 312-648-6115 for your free consultation today.