Collaborative Divorce vs. Contested Divorce – What’s The Difference?

The choice between a Collaborative Divorce or a Contested Divorce depends on various factors, including the level of communication between spouses, the complexity of assets, emotional dynamics, and the willingness to work together. While Collaborative Divorce offers a more peaceful and less stressful process, it requires cooperation and compromise. On the other hand, a Contested Divorce might be unavoidable in situations where agreement seems impossible or if there are issues like abuse or severe power imbalances.


Collaborative Divorce:


Imagine a divorce process where cooperation and mutual agreement are at the forefront. This is the essence of Collaborative Divorce. In this approach, both parties, accompanied by their respective collaboratively trained lawyers, work together to negotiate and resolve the terms of their divorce without going to court.


Here’s what typically happens in a Collaborative Divorce:


  1. Open Communication: Both spouses commit to honest, open communication to find mutually acceptable solutions.
  2. Teamwork: Each spouse is represented by a lawyer specially trained in collaborative law. Other professionals include a  financial neutral  and divorce coach .
  3. Negotiation and Agreement: Through a series of meetings, the spouses, along with their legal representatives, financial neutral and divorce coach negotiate various aspects of the divorce settlement, such as child custody, division of assets, and spousal support.
  4. Finalization: Once both parties agree on all terms, the settlement and separation  agreement is formalized and submitted to the court for approval.


The collaborative approach encourages a more amicable resolution, preserves relationships (especially important when children are involved), and often saves time and money compared to a contentious court battle. However, it does require a certain level of trust and willingness to cooperate from both parties.


Contested Divorce:


Conversely, a Contested Divorce involves spouses who cannot agree on key issues, leading to a legal battle where the court intervenes to decide for them.


Critical aspects of a Contested Divorce include:


  1. Adversarial Nature: Spouses often have conflicting interests, leading to disputes that can’t be resolved outside of court.
  2. Legal Proceedings: Each spouse hires an attorney to represent their interests. Court appearances, hearings, and negotiations become part of the process.
  3. Decision by Court: When disagreements persist, a judge ultimately decides on unresolved issues like asset division, child custody, and support payments.

Contested Divorces tend to be more emotionally draining, time-consuming, and expensive due to legal fees and court costs. Moreover, the adversarial nature can strain relationships further, especially if children are involved.


Collaborative Practice Kansas City is a network of divorce attorneys, financial nettrual , and mental health professionals, serving in the role of a divorce coach,  committed to helping you find the best divorce process options for your situation. If you live within the KC metro area, contact us at 913-380-2560 to schedule your consultation today!

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