What is Cooperative Divorce Law?
It is not an all-encompassing term for the settlement approach to divorce.
Cooperative divorce law is the name of our newest alternative to fighting it out in court. It is not mediation and it is not collaborative law. It is our third minimally invasive way to divorce, and it comes complete with its own settlement process.
Cooperative is similar to collaborative law in that it centers on a respectful negotiation process that takes place at 4-way meetings with the divorcing parties and their lawyers. The process assists in creating and maintaining a non-confrontational negotiation climate where compromise and settlement can take place.
Its purpose is to help the parties minimize the time, pain, cost, and destruction of divorce. Its structure gives them a sensible and effective way of presenting their positions to one another.
If they are unable to reach a settlement, the cooperative model does not prohibit the lawyers from going to court and litigating on their client’s behalf.
The parties sign a Cooperative Divorce Law Participation Agreement in which they commit to:
- Listen to their spouse’s concerns, and try to keep an open mind
- Allow their partner to have a different view and not try to change it
- Accept that their spouse has a right to think the way they do, and try to work around it
- Refrain from arguing
- Bite their tongue and not say anything that would aggravate their partner
- Avoid referring to past behavior or perceived injustices
- Apply their energy and creativity toward reaching a compromise settlement instead of routinely preparing for a trial that only takes place ten percent of the time
- Make the problem the problem, instead of making their spouse the problem
- Voluntarily provide all relevant financial information promptly and without objection.
There is no downside to cooperative divorce law. In the worst-case scenario, it gives the parties a brief opportunity to think more clearly. It also helps them put their best foot forward at a time when this is critical. They will also be able to take comfort in the fact that they tried to mitigate their situation. They will know they did not squander their chances of obtaining a settlement, if perhaps any such chances did exist.
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Richard and Kari are staunch advocates of the non-court approach to divorce, and are also active and seasoned litigators with over 60 years of combined trial experience in the Illinois divorce courts of Cook, DuPage, and Will counties.
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