Collaborative practice codified
It’s been used for nearly three decades in more than two dozen countries and every state in the U.S. But starting January 1, 2018, the interdisciplinary model of conflict resolution known as collaborative law will be formally codified here through the Illinois Collaborative Process Act.
Used most often in family law but also useful in resolving small business, probate, and other cases, collaborative law – a/k/a collaborative practice or collaborative process – hinges on a written agreement among both parties to a case, their attorneys, and any other professionals, such as mental health or financial experts, to solve their disagreements without resorting to litigation or involving a third-party mediator.
Collaborative practice requires that all parties have informed consent, attorneys and other professionals commit to withdrawing if either party threatens or pursues litigation, all information needed to resolve the conflict is shared voluntarily and honestly, and everyone has a commitment to resolve the conflict in a manner acceptable to all stakeholders.
In the absence of a neutral third party, attorneys themselves act as negotiators and drafters in addition to advocates and legal advisers. The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals’ advocacy helped lead to the creation of the Uniform Collaborative Law Act (UCLA), versions of which have passed in more than a dozen states.
While the Illinois law does not precisely mirror the UCLA, it contains many of the same provisions, and others – including a rule that helps ensure informed consent of clients – are under consideration to be adopted under the Illinois Supreme Court Rules of Professional Conduct.
New child support calculation takes effect
The Illinois state legislature took a step aimed at ensuring that the formula to determine child support payments is fair and equitable when it passed Public Act 99-764, an amendment to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. (See the article on income shares in the December 2016 IBJ.)
Until July 1, the state had used a percentage guideline formula that calculated the payor’s obligation by simply multiplying that party’s net income against a statutorily set percentage that increased based on the number of children in the house. Some in the field came to view this model as outdated and not reflective of actual child-rearing costs.
The new “income shares” model, which is used in 39 other states and the District of Columbia, adds information about actual child-rearing costs, based in part on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The computation accounts for net monthly income of both parents and bases the percentage of each party’s contribution on their percentage of the total.
The parent with the majority of the parenting time receives the calculated payment from the other, unless both parties have at least 146 parenting overnights per year. In that case, a shared parenting adjustment kicks in, tweaking the payment amount based on the percentage of parenting time.