How does the Collaborative process compare court in terms of completion time?

Many people want to know which divorce process is the quickest.  No process is inherently quicker than the other.  An adage frequently stated by many family law attorneys is that a case moves “as fast as the slowest person.”  This slowest person could be one of the professionals involved or one of the parties to a case.  If it’s a litigated or “court” case this slowest person could be judge. If the parties don’t have many issues to discuss (i.e. no children, no assets, etc.) this will help make a case quicker, but it does not guarantee a quick case.  A case with a lot of potential issues (i.e. business valuation, children, spousal support, etc.) does not need be long.  The players involved in the case determine when it get done.


In Cook County, the typical court case that ends in a trial will take at least 12-24 months.  A case that does not go to trial is usually about 9-12 months. The reason for the delay is that Judges want cases to settle without a trial because the court does not have the resources (i.e. time) to conduct a trial on every case.  The positive is that a court will set and enforce deadlines for the exchange of information which will help get things done.  A court will also give recommendations for settlement which can help end a case.  A negative is that court routinely extends deadlines.

Collaborative Process

In the Collaborative Process, all the professionals involved are working to get the case resolved.  If the case has complicated financial issues, having a financial neutral will help expedite the case.  If one party is struggling coming to terms with the divorce, a coach can help get that person to the place they need to be negotiate a settlement.  Collaborative focuses on issues that are important to the parties which helps move the case faster.  The parties are more in control of the Collaborative process and can better dictate the speed.