August 22, 2009

DuPage and Kane County Cooperative Divorce

I have written in this blog on Collaborative and Cooperative Divorce and conducted a seminar last year for the Kane County ADR Committee on Collaborative and Cooperative Divorce. The Collaborative Divorce offers some distinct advantages to divorcing parties over the typical bitterly contested, litigated divorce. However, there have been some difficulties with the collaborative model, such that my office more typically suggests a Cooperative Model. I have developed my own approach to the collaborative process, and other cutting edge lawyers have done so, as well. In the right case, with the right parties, it's a terrific way to help divorcing families. What is this model? Linda Roberson wrote recently about this model, and I enclose it below:

Cooperative Divorce

The attorneys who are spearheading the “collaborative divorce” movement have adopted this idea with the best of intentions. They are looking in good faith for a more humane and less stressful way to deal with the sturm und drang of marital dissolution. They are legitimately frustrated with the waste of time and duplication of effort that goes into simultaneous settlement negotiations and trial preparation. They want to make a hard time easier for their clients and for themselves.

We can work toward these goals without running afoul of ethical rules, and refusing to use the available resources of the court system appropriately to facilitate negotiated settlements wherever possible. Let’s call it “cooperative divorce.”

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August 2, 2009

Illinois Divorce and Changes in our Antiquated Laws?

Illinois attorneys and the Illinois legislature are now studying changes to Illinois' Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. One of the goals of the review is to, perhaps, bring Illinois into the 21st Century by reforming the way we resolve custody issues, as well as revising the language of custody. What changes would you like to see in our Illinois dissolution and custody statutes?

I'd certainly like to see the concept of "custody" relegated to the dustbin of history. Mom and Dad are parents...why not enact legislation that defines parenting as a shared relationship? Isn't it almost always true that the non-custodial parent hates to have what is called "visitation?" When does a parent become a visitor? How many custody wars have been fought over who would be relegated to "visitor" status?

Minnesota attorney and mediator Molly Millet discusses below changes that Minnesota made in 2007: "The biggest change in Minnesota that has been helpful is the perception of "custody." Before, parents would fight over the custody label — who got custody and how that related to child support. Now, it's "parenting time." Now, parents are focusing on time with their kids, rather than a legal label.It also takes both spouses' incomes into account. If you earn twice as much, you will pay more. It didn't make any sense before. Let's say Mom worked and Dad lost his job. He was paying child support, and the calculation didn't in any way take into account Mom had always earned more than Dad. Also before, expenses were split 50-50 regardless of who made what income. Now, in most cases, it's split proportionally."

I've discussed some of the proposed changes with members of the Family Law Committee that are advising the legislature. Any changes that bring Illinois into the modern custody era will be welcome.