By Nancy Stingle Perkoski, Divorce and Family Law Attorney
When a parent calls my office inquiring about a collaborative divorce, they almost always want to know if it is a better option for their children than a traditional divorce through litigation. And many times, the answer is yes.
The cooperative, open and compassionate nature of collaborative divorce keeps you out of court—and keeps the focus on what is best for your whole family. Our team at Stern Perkoski Mendez can help you determine if collaborative divorce is right for you and guide you through every step of the process.
What is a collaborative divorce?
Collaborative law is a non-litigation process that involves you, your spouse, your respective attorneys and your chosen professionals. In this process, you enter into a written agreement, based on mutual respect and goals, to reach a decision about your divorce without court intervention.
In a collaborative divorce, the team members meet as a group weekly, bi-weekly or monthly to discuss decision points including but not limited to parenting time, decision-making, child and spousal support, division of assets, and allocation of debt. This is beneficial because the team can spend as much time as necessary determining a plan that will work best for you and your kids.
In a collaborative divorce, a variety of people may play a role—and the decision as to who is involved in the collaborative divorce process is up to you and your spouse, with input from your respective attorneys. In addition to counsel, you have the choice to include the following professionals:
- Child Specialist: A child specialist is a licensed mental health professional who will support your children and ensure they have a voice in decision-making. If the parties choose to include a child specialist, you and your spouse will hire the child specialist together.
- Financial Coach: A financial coach is an accredited financial expert who will offer advice on all financial decisions, such as dividing after-tax and pre-tax assets that might affect the ability of one spouse to remain in the marital residence with the children; all decisions that will directly impact your children, such as child and spousal support; and an expense-share agreement.
- Divorce Coach: A divorce coach, if added to the team, will provide additional emotional support for each party. If including divorce coaches to the collaborative team, each party will hire their own divorce coach.
Because of the holistic support and expertise we offer at Stern Perkoski Mendez, many of our clients opt to not hire additional professionals. At our first meeting, we will discuss at length which combination of professionals is appropriate for your situation, and we will tailor a team that best suits your individual needs and the needs of your family.
How does collaborative divorce benefit my children?
In most cases, a process in which you and your family remain out of court is beneficial for the minor children involved. With divorce litigation, the judge—with input from a GAL (guardian ad litem) or Child Representative—has the decision-making power over you and your family.
In contrast, a collaborative divorce grants you and your spouse the ability, with the help of your trusted, dedicated professionals, to make decisions for you and your children—and nobody is better suited to make decisions for your children than you.
Collaborative divorce aims to keep every family member as whole as possible through what is already a difficult circumstance. Every step of the process is open and honest, and our commitment to mutual respect prevents deception and coercion.
Ultimately, collaborative law asks: what does everyone need to be comfortable after this divorce? Through our weekly, bi-weekly or monthly meetings, we will answer that question together with your spouse and the collaborative team that we hand-picked to navigate this difficult process.
Contact Our Collaborative Divorce Lawyers in Evanston, Chicago and Lake Forest
If you think collaborative divorce may be the right choice for you and your family, the Stern Perkoski Mendez team and I are here to support you throughout the process. Request a free consultation online or call us at (847) 767-3868. We can meet with you in our offices in Evanston, Chicago and Lake Forest, or at another location.