Is it Possible to Have an Amicable and Cooperative Divorce?

 Posted on August 28, 2020 in Divorce Issues

Downers Grove uncontested divorce lawyerAs everyone knows, divorce is not easy. If you are looking at the potential end of your marriage, this most likely means that your relationship with your spouse has broken down to the point where you no longer want to be together. This is probably not something you planned for, and you may both be feeling some pain and anger about the situation. However, this does not mean that your divorce has to turn ugly, and you may want to do everything you can to reduce conflict and finish the process quickly while avoiding major arguments and huge legal fees.

Fortunately, you have options for getting through your divorce while maintaining an amicable relationship with your spouse and cooperating with each other as much as possible. If you and your spouse are on the same page about these goals, you may be able to complete the divorce process much more easily and reach an outcome that you are both satisfied with.

It is important to remember that even if you are committed to avoiding conflict, you will want to work with an experienced DuPage County divorce lawyer who can help you make the right decisions. Letting your attorney know your plans and goals will make sure they can help you protect your rights and resolve matters in a way that will allow you to move on from your divorce successfully.

Contested Vs. Uncontested Divorce

As you embark on the divorce process, you will want to understand the difference between the two types of approaches that may be taken by divorcing spouses. Contrary to popular belief, “contested divorce” does not refer to a disagreement between spouses about whether they should get divorced in the first place. Once one spouse files a petition for divorce, there is usually no reason to contest this petition, and the spouses will then proceed with the divorce process with the intent of legally ending their marriage. If you and your spouse decide to reconcile before finalizing your divorce, you can withdraw the divorce petition at any time.

Whether your divorce is contested or uncontested will depend on whether you and your spouse can reach a settlement or whether you will need to resolve your issues inside the courtroom through a divorce trial. If you are looking to have an amicable split, you will pursue an uncontested divorce, and the two of you will work together to reach an agreement on all of your outstanding issues. 

Even if your divorce is uncontested, this does not necessarily mean that you will never go to court. Throughout your case, you may need to appear before a judge to provide status updates, and either you or your spouse may ask the judge to make temporary rulings about how certain issues should be handled during the divorce process. Once you have reached a settlement, you will attend a final “prove-up” hearing where your divorce decree will be approved and signed by the judge, finalizing the dissolution of your marriage.

Resolving Divorce Issues

During the divorce process, you and your spouse will need to address all of the legal issues involved in ending your marriage. This can often be a complex process, since during your marriage, your lives have most likely become closely intertwined, and you have probably shared your finances, bought property together, and built up joint debt. 

As you separate your lives from each other, you will need to decide how you will divide your marital assets and debts, and this may involve some difficult decisions. You will probably both have certain items that are important to you, but whether different pieces of property have financial or sentimental value, you will want to figure out a way to split financial funds, physical property, and debts in a way that is fair.

You may also need to address the issue of spousal maintenance (a.k.a. alimony). While the idea that one spouse should make ongoing payments to support the other may seem distasteful, the purpose of these types of payments is not to punish anyone, but to make sure both of you can continue living at the standard you were used to during your marriage. If one spouse was a stay-at-home parent or earned a much lower income, spousal support payments can help them get back on their feet after the divorce, pursue education or job training, and make sure they will be able to support themselves in the future.

If you are parents, you will also need to figure out how you will divide parenting tasks going forward. When addressing child custody issues, the two of you can decide how you will work together to make decisions about how your children will be raised, and you will also create a parenting time/visitation schedule that will give your kids enough time with each of you. Your divorce settlement will include a parenting plan or parenting agreement that fully defines your rights and responsibilities, the rules you will follow as parents, and how you will settle any disagreements that may come up in the future. As you make these decisions, you will want to focus on finding solutions that will protect your children’s best interests and allow you and your ex to work together as co-parents going forward.

Finally, you will need to address child support as divorcing parents. As with spousal support, these payments are not meant to punish either parent or give one a financial advantage, but to ensure that children’s needs will be met. In many cases, both parents will have child support obligations that ensure that they are contributing to costs related to children’s food, clothing, and shelter. You and your spouse will also need to decide how you will address other child-related costs, such as medical insurance, educational expenses, or fees for any activities your children participate in.

Using Alternative Dispute Resolution

If you and your spouse are planning to cooperate during your divorce, you may be able to sit down together to negotiate the terms of your settlement. However, creating a solid legal agreement can be difficult, since you may not know the legal terminology to use or how to make sure your decisions will be clearly understandable and enforceable if you encounter any disputes in the future. That is why working with an attorney is essential during this process.

When creating your settlement, you may choose to use alternative dispute resolution to complete the divorce process as amicably and cooperatively as possible. Mediation can be an especially beneficial method, since it will allow the two of you to work together with a neutral mediator who can guide you toward making decisions that you can both agree on. Mediation is completely confidential, and mediators are usually lawyers who have an understanding of the legal issues that you will need to address in your settlement. By using mediation, you can be sure that you will both be satisfied with the agreements you reach.

Collaborative law is another method that you and your spouse may use to create a settlement. When doing so, you and your attorneys will sign an agreement stating that you will work together cooperatively while being completely honest with each other about your finances or any other information requested. This will make sure that you both have a legal advocate on your side as you work to reach a mutually agreeable divorce settlement.

At SBK Law Group, our Downers Grove divorce attorneys can provide the legal help you need as you work to end your marriage as amicably as possible. We provide mediation services, or we can represent you during a collaborative divorce. With our help, you can make sure your rights are protected, and you can reach an outcome to your divorce that will allow you to move on successfully to the next stage of your life.

 Sean P. Sullivan

About the Author:

Attorney Sean P. Sullivan has over 10 years of experience in the fields of family law and business law. He and the DuPage County divorce attorneys of SBK Law Group provide dedicated representation for clients, helping them resolve highly contested disputes and find effective solutions to their legal issues.

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