How to Immediately Terminate a Collaborative Divorce

How to Immediately Terminate a Collaborative Divorce

Although collaborative divorce has many benefits, it doesn’t work for every couple. When a collaborative divorce procedure breaks down, spouses are left to figure out how to immediately terminate a collaborative divorce. If you and your spouse are unable to complete a collaborative divorce, you will need to file a petition for a contested divorce instead. 

What Is Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative divorce offers an amicable alternative to traditional divorce proceedings. It is a problem-solving method that allows divorcing spouses to interact with respectful meetings about divorce issues. Collaborative divorce does not involve court litigation.

This divorce method works best for spouses who are on good terms and want to avoid the lengthy, expensive court litigation process often associated with a traditional divorce. To succeed, spouses must agree on critical issues like child custody, child support, the division of property and debts, and spousal maintenance. Collaborative divorce allows both spouses to agree on settlement terms without court intervention.

Throughout the process, each spouse has a legal representative who interacts and negotiates with the other spouse’s divorce attorney. The process is similar to informal mediation sessions, except that each spouse’s attorney is present during negotiations. During a collaborative divorce, each attorney agrees not to take the case to court. Once the terms of the divorce have been negotiated, your divorce lawyer will create a settlement agreement for both spouses to sign. The agreement is submitted to the Judge for final review. If the terms are deemed fair, the Judge will likely sign, and it will become your final judgment of divorce. 

Collaborative divorce offers many benefits to divorcing spouses who get along with each other and want to terminate a marriage without conflicts. Collaborative divorce is founded on three actions:

1) both parties pledge not to litigate disputes in court

2) both parties will work towards amicable divorce solutions, and

3) both parties want a voluntary exchange of information without formal discovery.

Collaborative divorce is based on reaching mutual agreements between spouses without going through court litigation. The choice to proceed with a collaborative divorce must be agreed upon by each spouse. When the process works, it usually provides a better outcome for spouses, children, and other family members. Unfortunately, it does not work for all divorcing couples. 

What Can Go Wrong in a Collaborative Divorce?

A collaborative divorce is entered into voluntarily by both spouses. All divorce details are discussed openly between spouses and their attorneys. This process is not a good choice for spouses who don’t want to share personal details that may impact the outcome of the divorce. If either spouse is not open to communication, or decides to withhold important information, reaching a mutual agreement may be impossible. This can result in the need to immediately terminate a collaborative divorce. Common problems in collaborative divorces include:

Lying or Providing Inaccurate Information

In some divorce cases, spouses may lie or give inaccurate information to protect their assets or personal belongings during the divorce process. When this happens, you can count on your divorce ending up in court litigation. When one spouse finds out that the other spouse is providing false information, the collaborative divorce will likely end abruptly. In addition, if the collaborative divorce attorney on either side discovers intentional deceit or false information, the attorney may withdraw his or her professional services.

Withholding Important Documents

Various documents must be presented to ensure both parties can make informed decisions. Information about finances, income, and assets are especially important when reaching a divorce agreement. Personal and business bank account statements, financial affidavits, and audits of personal assets must be provided openly and in a timely manner. Withholding such information for financial or other gains can result in the immediate termination of a collaborative divorce. 

Missing Scheduled Meetings

Collaborative divorce proceedings are overseen by each spouse’s divorce attorney, so attending scheduled meetings is mandatory. These meetings are designed to keep things on track and move the process along in a timely manner. Missing scheduled meetings without good reason may show a lack of commitment and delay tactics on the part of the absent spouse. The meetings are intended for communication between spouses about family affairs and the exchange of important documents. A lack of participation may result in court litigation.

In a collaborative divorce, it is agreed upfront that you and your spouse are both working towards a mutual agreement. Both parties are involved in good-faith negotiations, and there are fewer regulations than those that apply in court cases. Most of the time that is involved is directly related to the case itself, so resolving disputes in a divorce is easier. Maintaining a mutual, non-acrimonious relationship between spouses reinforces a healthy relationship between parents and children.

How Do You Terminate a Collaborative Divorce?

When problems arise, knowing how to immediately terminate a collaborative divorce is essential. If the collaborative process fails, you and your spouse can suffer financial and emotional setbacks. Since you have invested a lot of time, energy, and money in seeing the collaborative process through, a setback can take a toll on future relationships. When the collaborative divorce process fails, the next steps are filing a petition for a traditional divorce and preparing for divorce litigation.

Before hiring a divorce attorney to oversee a collaborative divorce process, it’s essential to consider whether a collaborative law divorce is right for you. In a collaborative divorce, you and your partner must sign a document at the beginning of the process stating that both of you agree to terminate your current counsel and hire new counsel if the proceedings turn litigious. If the collaborative proceedings fail, you will move forward with a litigated divorce, but with a different attorney. All of your time and money invested to reach an agreeable divorce settlement out of court will be lost.

Is the Collaborative Divorce Process Confidential?

Collaborative divorce is considered confidential, so all conversations and statements made during a collaborative divorce process in Illinois are absolutely not admissible in a court of law. Moving from a collaborative divorce to court litigation is like starting all over because confidential information can’t be introduced in court.

Is a Collaborative Divorce Agreement Legally Binding?

Any agreement signed and documented in the collaborative divorce process is considered legally binding and enforceable. If you and your spouse are contemplating a collaborative divorce, it’s best to discuss the process with your divorce attorney prior to entering into any agreements. A collaborative divorce agreement will be incorporated into a court order. To avoid any problems down the road, it’s important to understand the terms of your agreement and ensure all your bases are covered. Your attorney can help you determine what you should ask for in a collaborative law divorce.

What if a Collaborative Agreement Is Not Best for the Children?

In some cases, spouses realize that collaborative divorce is not in the best interests of the children. If this happens, spouses should address this right away with their divorce attorneys. If complications between spouses just can’t be worked out, a divorce attorney will guide spouses through how to immediately terminate a collaborative divorce and move things in another direction. It’s possible that disagreements between you and your spouse about child support, child custody, parenting time, visitation, and shared parental responsibilities can be worked out without proceeding to a formal litigation process in court.

In most cases, it is worth the time and effort to work through a collaborative divorce process with your divorce attorney, even if problems arise between you and your spouse. A well-managed collaborative divorce is almost always faster, less expensive, and less stressful on your family than court litigation.

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