1 situation when you should not choose collaborative divorce in Illinois
In this circumstance, it may not be the best choice for you
At the Law Office of Tania K. Harvey, I have seen the positive impacts that collaborative divorce in Illinois can have when a couple decides to divorce. Typically, all parties end up with much more favorable results than when the case is litigated in front of a judge (less fees, less acrimony, faster/friendlier divorce, etc.)
So when would I advise a client against attempting collaborative divorce in Illinois? The one factor that can prevent partners from pursuing a collaborative divorce in Illinois is when there is a drastic imbalance of power in the relationship. In a situation like this, I may advise my client to pursue a more traditional divorce through negotiation or litigation.
When there is a significant power imbalance in your relationship, collaborative divorce in Illinois may not be your best option
One of the biggest causes of a power imbalance in a relationship is money; more specifically, one partner having control of everything financial.
- Has your partner been particularly controlling of finances?
- Do they have sole access to the accounts and/or information about a business?
- Do they manage the bills?
- Do they decide how much will be spent on groceries, the house, or recreational activities?
- Are you left in the dark about how much money they make, save, and spend?
- Will they lie about their income/assets/debts?
If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, it may be unlikely that you and your partner can participate in a collaborate divorce in Illinois and resolve any financial issues that come with a divorce.
Collaborative divorce in Illinois relies on both partners and their individual attorneys to work together and to cooperate. And, both parties are required to submit a comprehensive financial affidavit. Lawyers and financial specialists trust that all documentation provided is accurate and complete. If your partner has not been open and honest throughout the marriage about finances, it is unlikely that they will be now. This situation is an example of when collaborative divorce doesn’t work.
Why might traditional negotiation / litigation be a better option when there is a gross imbalance of financial power?
When there is a gross imbalance of financial power and you cannot rely on your partner to make honest disclosures about your finances, it may be more beneficial to be able to utilize the court system.
When the courts are utilized, the imbalance of power shifts, as there is more legal recourse against your partner. The process begins similarly with the submission of a financial affidavit. Then, discovery happens where lawyers request, from each party, documentation that supports that affidavit. For example, your attorney can request that your partner produce 3 years of bank statements.
After the initial discovery, your attorney has the ability to file subpoenas to access additional information about your financial situation. For example, if the bank statements are incomplete or look altered, your lawyer can request additional statements directly from the bank. Your attorney can subpoena credit card statements, retirement account information, and any other documentation needed to provide a complete financial picture.
Because a subpoena is court ordered and there are potential legal consequences, it is less likely that an untrustworthy partner will be able to maintain financial power and control over the divorce proceedings.
My experience as an divorce attorney can help you effectively navigate the process that is right for you
As a family law attorney, my primary responsibility is to ensure that there is a favorable outcome for my clients and any children involved. Although I know, and have seen firsthand, how effective collaborative divorce in Illinois can be, I am also acutely aware that there are instances where a more traditional approach may be most appropriate.
All divorces have some level of difficulty because of the number of factors that need to be considered. No process is perfect. But, in a situation where there is an extreme imbalance of financial power, the traditional process of negotiation and litigation may be the most effective approach. At the Law Office of Tania K. Harvey, I am here to support you through the divorce process that is right for you.