As Published by Evanston Woman Magazine. View the article HERE.
For many couples, divorce is the most painful and damaging experience of their lives. Moving forward can be challenging for these people, and they may choose or fall into the litigated divorce process. However, others may want to have a different divorce experience. For couples who are willing and able to work together, divorce doesn’t have to be a battle of the exes. Collaborative divorce and mediation provide alternative approaches that can help couples work through their disputes together and make decisions mutually. This collaborative process can provide a couple with the tools to divorce with respect and dignity.
For the vast majority of my clients, choosing mediation or a collaborative process to divorce can save time, money, and extended anguish. As a member of the Collaborative Divorce Institute of Illinois, I’m committed to offering my clients solutions that are “supportive, considerate, sensible, constructive and mutual.”
The purpose of a collaborative divorce is to give spouses the opportunity to focus on their future goals, concerns and fears, and resolve their disputes without litigation. When couples agree to use the collaborative process, they each hire an attorney trained in and committed to the collaborative divorce process model. Then, a collaborative team is formed to identify solutions that are agreed upon until all issues are resolved, and a final divorce decree is signed and entered in court.
The collaborative approach allows the parties to keep matters private and work through their issues together. The process promotes effective communication and allows the parties to retain decision-making control. In addition, the collaborative process has been shown to improve the chances for long-term cooperation between the parties.
In mediation, I can assist a client in one of two ways. I can serve as a neutral third party whose only goal is to help the spouses agree on all outstanding issues. In this situation, I do not represent either spouse to avoid any conflict of interest in the mediation process negotiations. In other cases, I represent one of the spouses as his or her attorney as they go through the mediation process. I brainstorm options, explain to my client the legal impact of these options, and ultimately prepare the legal documents and finalize the case after the mediation process. It is important to note that I cannot act as both the mediator and an attorney for one of the spouses in the same case. Rather, I can only fill one of those roles in any given case. During mediation, spouses can actively negotiate the terms of their settlement agreement. When I am retained as a neutral mediator, I facilitate this important effort by the spouses.
These two alternatives to litigating divorce allow the divorce process to move forward at the pace determined by the couple, especially while dealing with limited access to courts and case delays due to Covid-19. This saving of time can also result in cost savings in the divorce process, thereby saving you money in the long run.
Saving time and money are great, but I, and more importantly, my clients, often find that the collaborative process and mediation process can help save or improve relationships. Whether or not children are involved, these routes to divorce provide the foundation of an equitable split. And although divorce is painful no matter what, it can help you move on more quickly from this chapter of your life. I have also noticed the former spouses of clients who used the mediation or collaborative process are often better able to navigate their co-parenting path and are more willing to continue collaborating to support their children’s development.
When deciding to divorce, I always encourage my clients to consider collaborative divorce and mediation before diving straight into litigation. For more information, you can visit our website at: www.annaklaw.com.
Anna Krolikowska, founder and lead attorney at Anna K Law.