It is natural to feel uncertain about the legal proceedings you are likely to face as you begin the divorce process. A Tulsa, OK divorce attorney is an excellent resource for anyone beginning divorce proceedings, but it is a good idea to know some of the basics of the mediation process before you agree to legal representation. Review the following frequently asked questions about the divorce mediation process in Tulsa, OK to gain insight regarding the advantages it can provide over typical divorce litigation.
Q: Why Should I Avoid Divorce Litigation?
A: Litigation of any kind is often extremely expensive for all parties involved. In addition, divorce litigation could take several months or even years before it reaches a conclusion, and you and your spouse will be paying legal fees the entire time. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to completely avoid litigation because some aspects of divorce may simply require the litigation process. However, it is still worth taking advantage of alternative dispute resolution to the highest possible degree to save yourself time, money, and stress.
Q: What Are the Requirements for Divorce Mediation?
A: The only real requirement of alternative dispute resolution is that you and your spouse must both be willing to mediate. Divorce can cause emotions to flare, and it can be extremely challenging for some people to separate their personal feelings from practical logic as they begin the divorce process. At times, one or both spouses may wish to litigate, derailing the opportunity for mediation. Similarly, if you and your spouse are in a heated dispute, it may seem like mediation is out of the question. However, if you objectively review the benefits that mediation could hold for both of you, you will find that mediation is nearly always the better option.
Q: What Does a Mediator Do?
A: It is a common misconception that a mediator takes the place of an attorney when you opt for divorce mediation. However, it is vital to remember that your mediator cannot provide legal counsel to you or your spouse during mediation. Instead, they can only clarify legal statutes, guide the negotiation to ensure it remains productive, and assist in the drafting of your proposed divorce agreement as mediation ends. You should have your own attorney at your side as you enter the mediation process so you will be able to pursue your best interests with clarity and legal guidance.
Q: Is Divorce Mediation Entirely Private?
A: When you litigate your divorce in court, everything stated during your proceedings becomes part of the public record, and anyone can access this record once the proceedings are closed. Mediation is entirely confidential, so everything discussed during your mediation sessions remains private. Once you submit your proposed divorce agreement to the court for final approval, the record of the divorce will be public, but the discussions held during your sessions remain confidential.
Q: What Can I Negotiate in Mediation?
A: Mediation provides you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse the opportunity to privately negotiate some of the most critical issues in your divorce. For example, instead of allowing a judge to divide your assets and property, the two of you can negotiate a personalized settlement. It is also possible to negotiate alimony or spousal support through mediation.
Q: Can My Coparent and I Negotiate Child Custody and Support in Mediation?
A: While it is possible for you and your spouse to negotiate a parenting plan in mediation, you should not expect it to be set in stone. The Tulsa, OK family court has a legal responsibility to preserve the best interests of your children, so the court must review and approve your proposed parenting plan before it can be legally enforced. Your attorney can help you negotiate a realistic and logical parenting plan. However, you must remember that a judge has the final say and may change some aspects of your proposal before finalizing your divorce.
Q: What Do I Need to Do to Prepare for Mediation?
A: You should be prepared to invest quite a bit of time and effort into preparation for mediation. While the process may not be as intense, demanding, or time-sensitive as litigation, it is still crucial to do your due diligence and gather all the evidence and documentation you will need to establish a strong negotiating position in your mediation sessions. Your Tulsa, OK divorce lawyer will help you gather necessary evidence and documentation and support you throughout the mediation process if any new information comes to light.
Q: How Long Will My Divorce Mediation Last?
A: The length of your mediation is difficult to gauge as every divorce case is unique. While some issues in your divorce may be straightforward, others could prove more complex. For example, if you and your spouse own substantial assets, your high-net-worth divorce case can still reach a conclusion through mediation, but it will take longer than a simpler divorce. Your Tulsa, OK divorce attorney will be able to assess the facts of your case and provide you with a more realistic estimate of how long your mediation will take.
Q: Are There Any Factors That Can Disqualify a Divorce from Mediation?
A: Mediation is an acceptable form of alternative dispute resolution for many divorce cases but is not suitable for all. If your divorce involves any type of domestic violence, criminal actions, child abuse, or other extreme circumstances, litigation could be unavoidable. It is also possible for a divorce case to overlap with a criminal case. Additionally, if the mediation process reveals that your spouse hid assets or engaged in any other illegal actions to influence the process, you may need to proceed to litigation to hold them accountable.
It is our hope that these frequently asked questions and their answers will help you feel more confident about the benefits of the divorce mediation process. If you have specific questions about what to expect in mediation with your own divorce case, a personalized consultation should be your next step. Reach out to an experienced Tulsa, OK divorce attorney as soon as possible.