Collaborative Divorce in Illinois

Collaborative Divorce: An alternative to litigation

Collaborative Divorce offers divorcing spouses an opportunity to avoid litigation and court intervention by providing a structure that guides the parties through the divorce process with a series of meetings focused on reaching property division and parenting agreements that align with the goals of the parties. The goals set by collaborative divorce participants often focus on whole-family considerations.

Examples of goals commonly set by Collaborative Divorce participants are:

  • Maintaining the home to ensure stability for the children
  • Keeping the children in the same school district
  • Maintaining or creating effective communication for co-parenting
  • Desire to avoid costly litigation
  • Desire to keep the process amicable

Collaborative Divorce can be significantly less adversarial, which often can shorten the divorce timeline and save the parties money.

I was very happy with Ms. Waltz as my attorney. Throughout this awful process she remained a voice of reason and clarity. All of my questions were answered in a way I understood, not legal speak. Nothing my ex tried to do got by her, she was always on top of things and kept me very well informed. I didn’t have to wait days to hear back from her. Nichole saw to it that I was treated fairly and divorce sucks but I couldn’t be happier with the outcome of my divorce. For everything she did for me I would’ve expected to pay more but I found her fee to be quite fair. Divorce is not fun for anyone but it sure helps to have an attorney you can count on and trust, Nichole is both of those things and more!

Former Client

Working with a Collaborative Divorce attorney

In a Collaborative Divorce a “team” approach is utilized. The purpose of the team is to assist and guide the parties through the collaborative divorce process and help the parties develop agreements that achieve their declared goals. A collaborative divorce team consists of, at minimum two Attorneys, and often also one or two Coaches, a Financial Neutral, and a Child Specialist, if needed. The collaborative process requires all team members to be collaboratively trained and credentialed in their respective professions.

To participate in a Collaborative Divorce, both parties must retain a collaboratively trained attorney.

The Collaborative family law team


Coaches are collaboratively trained and credentialed mental health professionals who assist the parties with the management of emotions, to strengthen communication, assist with parenting and co-parenting skills and communication, and to keep meetings productive by identifying ineffective behaviors. One or two coaches may be employed for these purposes.

Financial neutral

A Financial Neutral is a collaboratively trained credentialed financial advisor whose role is to assess the parties’ financial situation and help both parties understand the marital finances. The Financial Neutral will also discuss the property division scenarios and the financial impact and consequence(s) for each party. As the title implies, a Financial Neutral is neutral and is not on either parties’ “side.”

Child Specialist

The Child Specialists is a neutral team member which the divorcing spouses agree upon when selecting. It is the role of the Child Specialist to bring the children’s voices to the divorce process and assists the parties with child development issues, if needed. The Child Specialist often maintains an ongoing relationship with the parents and is available to assist them with parenting issues after the collaborative process is complete.

The Collaborative Divorce process requires all participating parties and professionals to sign a Collaborative Process Participation Agreement which sets forth the guidelines for participation and helps the parties to commit fully to the Collaborative Divorce process.

Work with an experienced Illinois Collaborative Divorce attorney

Nichole M. Waltz is the current president of the Collaborative Divorce of Illinois and has been a Fellow of the organization since 2012. She has participated in many Collaborative Divorce teams with successful outcomes. Nichole has been a member of the Board of Directors for Collaborative Divorce of Illinois (formerly Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois-CLII), since 2019 when she served as President Elect. Nichole served as the President of Collaborative Divorce of Illinois in 2020 and the Immediate Past President in 2021.

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