Illinois Supreme Court Implements New Collaborative Divorce Rule

The Illinois Supreme Court has adopted a new rule allowing divorcing couples to use an attorney on a limited basis in a collaborative divorce. Illinois Supreme Court Rule 294 went into effect on July 1, 2018, and it is intended to encourage attorneys and their clients undergoing a collaborative divorce to finalize details out of court to avoid litigation.

How the New Rule Works

Couples opting for a collaborative divorce work with their respective attorneys and other professionals (ie financial advisors, accountants, psychologists, etc…) to resolve important issues like division of property, maintenance, child support, and allocation of parental responsibilities privately. The only time a judge is involved is at the end of the case, when the parties present the final agreement for entry. If the couple finds themselves unable to reach an agreement, then they may decide that their only next option is to litigate the remaining issues in court. According to this new rule, if a case goes to court, the attorneys involved in the collaborative divorce become ineligible to represent the the parties in court.

Benefits of the Ruling

This ruling is the Illinois Supreme Court’s way of promoting collaborative divorce. Through this process, couples are able to work things out in a constructive manner for the best interests of their family. It also gives them ownership over the outcome over their case, rather than allow a judge to decide.

Even though Illinois Supreme Court Rule 294 has not been in effect long, collaborative divorce has been around for some time.  The new rule will simply solidify what many in the collaborative divorce field have already instituted as part of their process.  To understand how a collaborative divorce can work for individual cases, it is best to speak with an experienced Illinois family law attorney.