The decision to end a marriage is one of the most important and most difficult decisions a person will ever make. Deciding to divorce is just the first step in the formal process of ending a marriage; the actual legal process itself is very complex and challenging, even for those who believe their situations are very straightforward. How you choose to complete the process of divorce can potentially influence your life for years to come. Because of this, it’s vital to understand your options and the value of legal representation as you begin the divorce process.
Many divorcing couples in Tulsa, OK and throughout the US choose mediation to settle their divorces quickly and efficiently. As the name suggests, divorce mediation allows divorcing spouses to negotiate their divorce terms instead of leaving the final decisions in the hands of a judge. The mediation process requires a neutral mediator who holds no conflicts of interest favoring either of the divorcing spouses, and both spouses must be willing to negotiate.
Why Should I Choose Mediation?
Alternative dispute resolution offers several distinct advantages in any civil case, but it is particularly valuable in divorce cases that would otherwise take months or even years of litigation to reach their conclusions. Mediation offers several important benefits that no one should overlook:
- Mediation is expedient. Typically, a divorcing couple can usually mediate their divorce within a few weeks or a month or two at most. Compared to the time required for litigation, you could potentially reach a conclusion to your divorce case in a fraction of the time that litigation would require.
- You can save money on legal fees by choosing mediation. You will still need to hire a Tulsa, OK divorce attorney to represent you in mediation, but the shorter time required for the mediation process will mean less expensive legal fees for your divorce. When you consider the financial impact divorce can have, saving money wherever possible during your divorce should be a priority.
- Mediation provides a low-pressure atmosphere in which you and your spouse can more comfortably discuss the terms of your divorce. Your mediation sessions will likely unfold at your chosen mediator’s office, which is a much more comfortable setting than a courtroom. The psychological effect can be that both spouses feel more at ease about discussing their divorce terms and ultimately have an easier time negotiating.
- Divorce mediation keeps you and your spouse in control of the outcome of your divorce. When you litigate, the final outcomes of every issue your divorce entails are entirely in the hands of the judge overseeing your case. Their final ruling will be based entirely on state laws and strict legal statutes, and the judge will have little to no frame of reference for you and your spouse’s personal issues, preferences, and goals.
- Negotiating a divorce often requires discussing uncomfortable, sensitive, and private topics. When you litigate divorce, everything said in the courtroom becomes part of the official court record. This is publicly accessible information, so virtually anyone can look up the transcripts from your divorce case proceedings. Mediation, on the other hand, is entirely confidential. While the record of your divorce will enter the public record, everything said during your mediation sessions does not, so mediation is definitely the preferable option for those who wish to keep their divorce proceedings private.
These benefits should make it clear to you why so many divorcing couples in Tulsa, OK and other areas of the US are choosing mediation instead of litigation for handling their divorces. If you want to take advantage of these benefits, you should know what to expect from the mediation process and the prerequisites for initiating the process.
What Are the Requirements for Mediation?
The main prerequisite for mediation is willingness to negotiate. Both you and your spouse must be open to trying mediation. If one of you is completely entrenched in the position of taking the divorce to court, mediation will not work. Even couples who fight bitterly and cannot agree on anything should be able to recognize the potential benefits of divorce mediation, so it is important for you and your spouse to do your best to consider the benefits of mediation in spite of whatever personal tension lies between the two of you.
The next requirement is a neutral mediator. The mediator’s job is to guide the negotiation and to keep the couple’s discussion productive and positive. The mediator may answer general legal questions concerning state laws and divorce statutes, but they cannot provide either spouse with any direct legal advice. The mediator also may not have any conflicts of interest involving either spouse.
Finally, you will require the services of a Tulsa, OK divorce attorney if you decide to pursue mediation. Even though you may think that you and your spouse are perfectly capable of having a reasonable negotiation, it is always best to have legal counsel on your side to look out for your best interests.
How to Prepare for Divorce Mediation in Tulsa, OK
Now that you understand the benefits of divorce mediation, once you and your spouse decide to pursue mediation to handle your divorce, it is best to connect with an experienced Tulsa, OK divorce attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will help you gather the materials necessary for a successful mediation process, including your financial disclosure documents, material evidence related to your divorce, and expert witness testimony, if necessary.
Your attorney can coach you to prepare for your mediation sessions, and most mediation processes involve addressing the facets of a divorce one issue at a time. During mediation, there will be some sessions that include you, your spouse, and both of your respective attorneys with the mediator. Most mediators will also make time for one-on-one sessions with each of the divorcing spouses. If you and your spouse are unwilling to sit in the same room together, mediation is still possible when your attorneys communicate on your behalf and relay messages between the two parties and the mediator until the divorce agreement is fully drafted.
Remember that while divorce mediation provides you an easier channel of resolving issues like property division and alimony, you cannot negotiate child custody with any firm results in mediation. You and your spouse may negotiate a parenting plan with the help of your attorneys and the mediator, but you will need to submit this parenting plan as a proposal to a Tulsa, OK family court judge. A judge must ensure that any custody and support decision reached suits your children’s best interests.
The most important step to take to prepare for divorce mediation is to retain the services of an experienced and reliable Tulsa, OK divorce attorney. Even if you are completely unsure how to approach the situation, the right attorney can make a tremendous difference in the outcome of your case and provide the professional guidance you need to approach divorce mediation with confidence.