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. It is a stressful process that typically breeds and reinforces feelings of insecurity and animosity.
Luckily, a contested 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 courts decide issues. Your contractual commitments also include creating shared solutions acknowledging the highest priorities of all and maintaining open communication and information sharing.
In both traditional 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 Collaborative case, each is selected by mutual agreement and the cost is shared.
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 livable outcomes 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 complete disclosure of information. If both parties are committed to an 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.