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.

Posted on July 30, 2018 by Rhys Saunders
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Member Comments (4)

Many thanks to all within the ISBA who worked to help get Rule 294 established in Illinois.  Togehter with the Collaborative Process Act (750 ILCS 90/1 et. seq, effective Jan. 1, 2018), this important recognition of the Collabortive ADR model will hopefully help the public better know and understand that when facing divorce and separation there is a process option available, other than litigation.  

Thank you,

Sandra Crawford, Chair of ISBA ADR Section Council (2018-19)

Because of Sandra Crawford’s early efforts some years ago seeking adoption of the Colloaborative Law Act ( there was severe opposition she and Collaborative lawyers faced) it eventually was passed as the Collaborative Process Act. The promulgation by the Illinois Supreme Court of Rule 294 is the final leg in the acceptance of Colaborative as a valuable and viable method in domestic relations matters.  Thank you Sandra for being on the vanguard.

Many thanks to you, Carlton, for being right there with me and everyone at the Collaborative Law Insitute of Illinois  (CLII) to make this a reality.  We hope that through the Collaborative Law process many more families will be spared the trauma and significant expenses of extended litigation and that the Court system as a whole will benefit by the reduction of time and staff necessary to process contested divorce matters.  Now that we have the Rules and Act in place in Illinois, it is our next task to educate the public and the profession about this option and the safeguards which must be in place to make it work for families.  

This legislation and the new Supreme Court Rule are helping to create a prardigm shift in the way we solve problems in Family Law.  Thank you to Carleton and Sandra for their efforts.  Collaborate Law is much more humane and inexpensive than litigation.  Only the very affluent can afford divorce litigation.  How do I become a member of the collaborative Law Institute and learn more about the process.?  Thank you again..  

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