Many couples who decide to divorce throughout the United States choose alternative dispute resolution, avoiding the stress, expense, and time investment usually required for divorce litigation. Mediation has become the most popular form of alternative dispute resolution for divorce. With the direction of an experienced mediator, divorcing spouses can privately settle their divorce terms in a comfortable and supportive low-pressure environment.

If you intend to divorce in Tulsa, OK, it’s vital to weigh all your available options for handling the process effectively. It’s also essential to know how to find the right mediator to manage your negotiations and what to expect from the process.

How Do I Find the Right Mediator?

Most divorce mediators working in the Tulsa, OK area are current or former family law attorneys who offer divorce mediation as a distinct legal service. If you want to take advantage of divorce mediation, you and your spouse must find a mediator who holds no conflicts of interest favoring either of you. It’s also important to ensure the mediator has the necessary availability to handle the breadth of your divorce negotiations in a timely fashion. With the right mediator, divorce mediation offers several significant benefits to both divorcing spouses.

Your Tulsa, OK divorce lawyer is a great resource for locating a mediator. Your attorney can offer a few suggestions for local mediators and will likely consult with your spouse’s divorce lawyer to coordinate a list of suitable candidates for both of you. Once you and your spouse have decided on a mediator and retained their services, the mediation process can begin.

What Does a Mediator Do?

Divorce mediators serve several important functions:

  • The divorce mediator will guide negotiations and keep the conversation focused and productive. Most mediators will aim to cover one issue at a time to ensure a more expedient mediation process.
  • Mediators will arrange collaborative meetings with both sides of the divorce as well as one-on-one sessions with each spouse separately.
  • Mediators can clarify legal statutes and answer general legal questions pertaining to the divorce. While mediation offers more flexibility compared to litigation, your mediated divorce agreement must still align with applicable state laws.
  • The mediator will assist the divorcing spouses in negotiating each aspect of their divorce, helping them draft their divorce agreement as they go. The process ends with a complete review of the drafted divorce agreement and allows for final adjustments, if necessary.
  • The mediator can highlight areas of concern or issues that the couple will not be able to address through mediation. This will help both spouses prepare for subsequent litigation necessary for finalizing their divorce.
  • Mediators often work closely with both spouses’ legal representatives to ensure a more productive negotiation process.
  • If the divorcing couple has a prenuptial contract, the mediator can assist their attorneys in reviewing the prenuptial contract and implementing the terms of the contract into the divorce settlement.

As mediation progresses, the mediator will gradually compile the divorcing couple’s divorce settlement. At the end of mediation, the couple should have a drafted divorce settlement that they can then take to a Tulsa, OK family court judge for final review and approval. One of the main goals of divorce mediation is to help the divorcing spouses avoid as much time in the courtroom as possible.

What Doesn’t a Mediator Do?

While mediators can provide substantial advantages to the divorce process, there are some limitations to the mediation process and the scope of the legal services the mediator can perform. First, the mediator cannot offer any direct legal advice to either of the spouses. While they can clarify general legal issues pertinent to the case and explain relevant state statutes, they cannot directly counsel either spouse. Both of the divorcing spouses should have their own legal representatives to whom they can turn to for advice.

Second, the mediator cannot resolve certain issues that require formal legal review from the Oklahoma family court system. Specifically, the divorcing couple cannot resolve child custody and child support through mediation. The family court must ensure their custody and support agreement serves the best interests of their children. A mediator can help divorcing parents draft the basic elements of a parenting plan, but this plan must be submitted to a Tulsa, OK family court judge for review. The judge will have the final say concerning the parents’ proposal, and they could potentially approve it with few to no necessary changes.

How to Finalize Divorce Mediation

In an ideal situation, the divorce mediator will assist the couple in drafting their divorce order, and the couple then submits the drafted divorce agreement to the Tulsa, OK family court for a final review and approval before their divorce is finalized. However, many divorces will have outlier issues that require litigation before the divorce can be finalized. Your divorce mediator will help you settle as much as you possibly can through mediation and provide you with the most complete divorce agreement possible, minimizing the time you and your spouse must spend in divorce litigation.

Many divorcing couples will only be able to partially resolve their divorces through mediation, but this still translates to significant savings of time and legal fees for both spouses. As long as both spouses are willing to try mediation, they can both benefit from the process even if they are unable to cover every aspect of their divorce.

One of the most important steps in divorce mediation is securing legal representation. Remember, the mediator cannot offer you any legal counsel, so you cannot rely on them for legal advice as your mediation progresses. While you and your spouse could be on relatively agreeable terms, it is always best to have legal counsel on your side for the mediation process. Your Tulsa, OK divorce lawyer can help you negotiate more effectively and help you take full advantage of the mediation process. If you are planning to divorce in Tulsa, OK and want to try mediation, contact an experienced Tulsa, OK divorce lawyer to learn more about what you can expect from this process.