A contested divorce, the traditional divorce process also known as litigation, is often mired with fear, hurt feelings, and anger that make an agreeable resolution difficult, if not impossible. Both parties communicate almost exclusively through attorneys and bargain from specific and conflicting positions, backed by the threat of letting a Judge decide everything. It is a stressful process that typically breeds and reinforces feelings of insecurity and animosity.
Luckily, a litigated divorce is not the only option. A growing number of parting couples, along with other professionals such as lawyers, mental health professionals, and financial specialists, have been seeking a more constructive option. These professionals have developed the Collaborative Divorce model.
Collaborative divorce is an alternative process that removes the element of litigation and settles cases respectfully, transparently, and privately. Unlike a contested divorce, the Collaborative Practice dispute-resolution process is based on a pledge in which you, your spouse, and your attorneys contractually agree to negotiate a mutually acceptable settlement without having the courts decide issues. Your contractual commitments also include creating shared solutions acknowledging the highest priorities of all and maintaining open communication and information sharing.
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, often involves duplicate professionals hired by each side, which increases costs exponentially.
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. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement after discovery has been completed, there is a trial in front of a judge, and witnesses can be subpoenaed to testify and exhibits offered into evidence. The judge will then make decisions on all issues. In a collaborative divorce, discovery and subpoenas are unnecessary. You and your spouse agree to transparently provide all information requested by the collaborative team.
Most 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.
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.
For more information about the collaborative process as an alternative to contested divorce, contact Collaborative Practice Kansas City, LLC today.