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Uniform Collaborative Act causing controversy in Illinois

Collaborative law is a process that is available for couples in Illinois who want to end their marriage on their own time and with their own financial expectations -- essentially this means that the couple wants the process to be less time consuming and less expensive than a traditional divorce.

In a collaborative law divorce, both spouses can still have an attorney representing their interests and ensuring that they are protected in the long-run. The unique part about the process is that it can be done out of court and in a private setting.

During the process, the couple decides when they want to meet, not a judge. It also allows them to bring in other professionals that they want to help in any way. This may include professionals like a child specialist to help the children in their transition or a financial specialist to deal with the valuation or division of a business. 

Although the process is already available, the Uniform Collaborative Law Act seeks to set more structured legal requirements for the process. While an act such as this may not be a big surprise, one portion of the act is causing controversy amongst family law attorneys who help clients through the process.

The Illinois State Bar Association Special Committee on Collaborative Law has made it clear that they oppose passage of the act. One of the main disagreements is over a requirement involving a situation in which either spouse decides to abandon the process and ask the court for relief.

The major sticking point for those opposed to the legislation is that the attorney representing each spouse would have to walk away from the case. Concern is not just over "losing a client," but instead over the clients themselves.

Being forced to walk away from the case means that each spouse would be left unprotected until they find a new attorney. Beyond that, it would cost more for a couple to have a new attorney familiarize themselves with a case. 

Either way, the collaborative process seems here to stay. Couples that want more information about the process should talk to a family law attorney who focuses on this type of divorce. 

Source: Northwest Herald, "Opposes divorce legislation," Aug. 4, 2013

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