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Understanding Divorce Options

Divorce Consultation & Practice

For clients who have determined that they will divorce, consultation about the options that exist in Illinois prior to engaging legal counsel is essential.  Each option has advantages and implications based on the needs and goals of your family. Meeting with a qualified professional divorce practitioner who can educate and help you explore the options at hand can be a valuable and eye-opening experience.  Knowing that the different approaches to divorce each have strengths and disadvantages can help orient a client to the value of their chioices.  This is especially importaant at a time when the stress of divorcing leaves some people feeling that they have little control.


When either party in a divorce feel that their interests will not be accurately represented, or that their counterpart cannot be trusted (whether true or perceived) then litigation might be a necessary course of action.  Litigation relies on the weight of the legal system, and the process is limited by the court calendar and requirements that documents, motions, and petitions are filed and reported on.  Once the petition is filed, the case is a matter of public record and fees and costs simply to meet the requirements of the court are initiated.  Attorneys will have to respond to motions and report to the judge assigned your case on a regular schedule as determined by the judge.  Litigation seeks to protect the individual client and their interests in a win-lose model.


Clients are able to represent themselves in court, should they feel the interest in doing so.  Clients may choose to seek legal consult about the procedural and process elements in seeking a pro se divorce, but they actually represent their own interests and appear in front of the judge on their own.  This is a very complex process and requires a great investment of time in preparation, learning procedural matters, etc.

Alternative Dispute Resolution models

Divorce Mediation


When clients feel that they have a good capacity for working together to resolve conflicts, a mediator can  facilitate the divorce process and assure that all the necessary topics are addressed to satisfy the Illinois Court’s expectations, but within the confines of your settlement meetings.  The mediator is neutral and does not offer legal counsel or advice.  A mediator may be an attorney or mental health professional or Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) who has expertise in the divorce process.  You will require at least one attorney to help you draft the necessary documents to secure your divorce.  Attorney mediators cannot serve as legal counsel in a mediation process.  In Illinois, mediators advise that each spouse seek expert legal counsel to review their agreements and explain their rights and obligations under Illinois Law. 

Mediators may elect to work with other professionals who can serve the specific interests of the parties.  For example, it can be common that a certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA) would be brought to work in a mediation to facilitate the financial aspects of a marital settlement agreement (MSA).  Their expertise assuress that the parties are able to fully understand the implications of their choices from a financial expert.



Collaborative Divorce- see collaborative page and view video sample

Collaborative divorce uses specially trained lawyers, divorce coaches and child specialists and financial experts to help develop an out-of-court agreement that retains your privacy and respects the individual particularities of your family.  This model helps parents develop agreements based on their own needs and interests, as parents, in financial matters, and uses the process as a venue for exploring decisions about the future in a very thoughtful and mutually respectful manner.  Collaborative Divorce

·         Promotes open communication

·         Encourages mutual respect

·         Prevents court battles

·         Protects privacy

·         Educates parents to develop a parenting process that supports the creation of two households that respect mutuality and difference.


This brief overview is not a comprehensive detailing of all the differences between options, but illustrates some basic comparisons.  Feel free to call to set a time to talk about this in greater detail.


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