Illinois Supreme Court Adopts Rule on Collaborative Process
The Illinois Supreme Court has adopted a rule that allows divorcing couples to work with lawyers on a limited-scope basis to try to reach an amicable settlement and avoid litigation.
Illinois Supreme Court Rule 294 was adopted June 8 and went into effect July 1. It was an important companion rule to ISBA-sponsored legislation establishing the practice of the collaborative process in dissolution cases. That legislation became effective on Jan. 1.
The new rule, also proposed by the ISBA, disqualifies attorneys serving in a collaborative process from representing clients if the process fails and the case goes to litigation. The rule also stipulates that when an attorney is discharged from a collaborative process, that lawyer’s entire law firm is also disqualified from representing the client.
The collaborative process involves attorneys working with their clients and each other during a divorce to reach a settlement and avoid litigation. The collaborative process is voluntary, attorneys and other professionals involved agree to withdraw if either client pursues litigation, and lawyers agree to share information voluntarily to resolve disputes.
“This is important, as the basic philosophy of the collaborative process is to resolve family law issues away from court and [deter] lawyers from threatening contested litigation,” said Carlton Marcyan, who testified before the Illinois Supreme Court’s Rules Committee on behalf of the ISBA.
The collaborative process is designed to provide flexibility and allow those involved to create a solution that is unique to the needs of the family.
"The collaborative process option gives families, supported by trained professionals, the opportunity to restructure in ways that are future-focused and positive," said Sandra Crawford, an attorney who specializes in the collaborative process. “It promotes sustainable agreements, and it actively works to keep the best interest of the children, where there are children, front and center.”
The issue will be explored in full in the September edition of the Illinois Bar Journal.