Contested Divorce vs. Collaborative Divorce – What Is The Difference?

A contested divorce is the traditional and frequently very adversarial divorce process of bargaining from specific and often conflicting positions, backed by threats of litigation and the intervention by a court of law. Rather than communicating directly with each other, you and your spouse communicate almost exclusively through your attorneys. 

In contrast to contested divorce, a collaborative divorce removes the element of litigation and settles cases respectfully, transparently and privately. Collaborative Divorce professionals, serving the Kansas City area, are specially trained to work with you through the collaborative process. The collaborative divorce dispute-resolution process is based on a pledge in which you, your spouse, and your attorneys contractually agree that the attorneys will not go to court, except to finalize the divorce. 

In both contested divorce and collaborative divorce, you and your spouse each retain your own attorney who will represent your interests and provide legal advice throughout the process. The collaborative process utilizes a team of collaboratively trained lawyers, a neutral financial planner, and a divorce coach to support and guide you through the process. A contested divorce, on the other hand, may involve separate psychologists, property appraisers, business valuation analysts, and accountants hired on both sides, which increases costs exponentially. Should any of these additional professionals be needed in your case, each is selected by mutual agreement and the cost is shared.

The process of a contested divorce often involves the use of formal legal procedures known as “discovery,” to obtain financial and other relevant information. Discovery may include the use of court-ordered testimony taken before a court reporter, known as depositions, and often times by a subpoena. A subpoena is a court order for witnesses, documents, or materials that are believed to be relevant to the issues to be presented to the court. In a collaborative divorce, discovery and subpoenas are unnecessary. You and your spouse agree to transparently provide all information requested by the collaborative team and necessary to make informed decisions regarding the issues in your case.

Most contested divorces using litigation are eventually settled at the proverbial “courthouse steps,” but a great deal more time, money, and emotional currency is usually spent before resolution than when the collaborative model is used. After a traditional divorce is finalized, many people are dissatisfied with their litigated outcome, which can lead to further disputes and additional time in court. A collaborative divorce typically produces more satisfaction for divorcing couples and better results for children. With a sustainable and durable agreement created through the collaborative divorce process, you are less likely to go to court again in the future.

It is possible that a contested divorce through litigation is the best and only choice for you if one spouse doesn’t agree to collaboration, abuse is present within the marriage, or distrust doesn’t allow for full and fair disclosure of information. If both parties are committed to a fair and equitable agreement, however, a collaborative divorce is a cost effective, lower stress alternative to traditional litigation.

Collaborative Practice Kansas City, LLC is a greater Kansas City community of independent legal, mental health and financial professionals working in concert to create client-centered processes for resolving divorce conflict. For more information, contact a Collaborative Practice team member at 913-380-2560 or click here.

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In contrast to contested divorce, a collaborative divorce removes the element of litigation and settles cases respectfully, transparently and privately.