Collaborative Divorce: A Chicago Judge Hasn’t Seen One Go Through Yet

Collaborative divorce originated in the 1980s.

But it’s really come into vogue among divorce professionals over the last decade. Many involved divorce professionals enthuse about it.

An Illinois judge favors collaborative practice, but is disappointed that it hasn’t caught on in a bigger way. In fact, she has yet to see a single collaborative law divorce actually go through in her corner of the legal system.

And therein may lie the rub.

No matter how much divorce professionals embrace collaborative divorce, it’s had mixed reviews among clients.

For example, a doctor and his wife opted for a collaborative divorce. However, they eventually gave up on it.

But only after they ran up a large legal bill, with nothing to show for it. The doctor is now suing his collaborative attorneys.

The doctor’s civil litigation attorney characterizes collaborative practice as the “trend of the week”, discounting the need for a rigid, labeled process to amicably settle a divorce case.

He also hits the nail on the head with the observation that “[i]t takes two people to make it work and one to make it not work.”

Whether it’s collaboration, mediation, or any of the other flavors of the month of wanna-be amicable divorces.

Another couple wasted a year (and $35,000) before starting over from scratch with a traditional divorce with new attorneys. The husband there also felt that the collaborative professionals pursued unnecessary meetings, which drove up the bill. With no results.

One practitioner who has used the process in her own divorce from her husband suggests that the couple must basically trust one another for collaboration to work.

That may be the real Achille’s heel of collaborative divorce.

Read more in this Crain’s Chicago Business article: Collaborative law aims for a kinder divorce; how’s that working out?.