Approaching a divorce case in Tulsa, OK, can be daunting, no matter what the case entails. Every divorce involves a measure of emotional strain on the divorcing spouses. This is true even when a couple reaches the mutual decision to end their marriage. Divorce is final and can be disruptive to your life in many ways. However, while you may be concerned about your divorce’s potential outcomes, you must first determine how your case is most likely to unfold.

When most people imagine divorce, they think of emotionally charged courtroom exchanges and impersonal proceedings entirely outside their influence. While litigation can be intimidating for anyone, you do not necessarily need to resolve the entirety of the divorce in the courtroom. Of course, litigation is likely necessary to some extent in every Tulsa, OK, divorce case, but there are steps you can take to limit the time you must spend in court resolving your divorce.

The right attorney will help you make informed decisions about the direction of the divorce case, potentially revealing legal options you didn’t realize were available to you. For example, you and your spouse could potentially take advantage of alternative dispute resolution to streamline your divorce and have more influence over the final terms of the divorce order. Mediation has become the most popular form of alternative dispute resolution for Tulsa, OK divorces, and you should know how this process compares to litigation.

What Is Divorce Mediation?

As the name suggests, divorce mediation is a process of privately negotiating terms for a divorce order under the direction of a mediator. This neutral third party may not offer legal advice to either spouse, nor may they hold any conflicts of interest favoring either spouse. Mediation unfolds at the spouses’ convenience and their chosen mediator’s availability. If a divorcing couple is relatively amicable toward one another and both are willing to negotiate, a good mediator can potentially help them resolve their disputes within a very short time, likely a fraction of what litigation would require.

The mediator is likely to schedule different types of sessions with divorcing spouses. For example, the mediator may meet with each spouse and their attorney separately as well as conduct collaborative sessions with both parties. As the couple negotiates their divorce terms, the mediator helps keep the conversation flowing and productive while drafting the couple’s divorce agreement.

Mediation can save a tremendous amount of time, money, and stress in the divorce. The only real requirements are that both spouses must be willing to negotiate and agree on a mediator. It’s wise for divorcing spouses to have legal counsel they can trust for any type of alternative dispute resolution as well. Even if you feel confident in your negotiating position, your legal counsel can have a significant positive influence on how your case unfolds.

What Does Litigation Involve?

Divorce litigation unfolds similarly to any other type of civil case, such as a personal injury suit. Both parties meet before a judge and have the right to offer evidence and testimony for the judge’s consideration. They may also call witnesses to support their respective sides of contested issues. The judge must consider all relevant evidence and testimony and then resolve the divorce under the statutes of Oklahoma state law.

Litigation will cover any aspects of the divorce the couple could not resolve privately. For example, Oklahoma is an equitable distribution state for divorce, meaning divorcing spouses must divide their shared property and debts in the fairest way possible when they divorce. However, when spouses disagree on what is “fair,” this can easily lead to conflicts regarding property division or separate property ownership rights.

Litigation will be necessary for certain aspects of a divorce, regardless of whether the couple pursued any alternative dispute resolution before initiating their courtroom proceedings. High net worth divorce cases often involve complex financial issues that divorcing spouses may not be able to resolve on their own. When divorcing spouses have children, they must settle custody and support through litigation. They may negotiate a proposal for a parenting plan and submit it to a judge for approval, but a Tulsa, OK, family court judge must approve it.

Why Should I Avoid Litigation?

Some divorcing spouses bitterly refuse any offers for settlement negotiations, believing that “having their day in court” will ensure the results they want to see. The reality is that litigation is stressful and expensive for both parties. If you hire a family law attorney who charges their clients by the hour, the longer they spend working on your case, the more expensive their legal fees will be. One of the most obvious reasons to avoid litigation is to save money on your divorce.

Litigation is also very disempowering in many cases. When you litigate your case, you might assume the judge will see things your way only to discover the reality is very different. When you litigate, the judge has the final say on every item your divorce includes. As a result, they may interpret aspects of the case very differently than you, and your spouse faces a similar risk.

Even if it seems as though you and your spouse cannot agree on anything, it is still worth attempting to take advantage of alternative dispute resolution before heading into the courtroom. If necessary, your respective attorneys could effectively act as proxies in your alternative dispute resolution negotiations, conveying messages back and forth as you settle on your divorce terms. This will take longer but will avoid the need for many face-to-face interactions if desired by either or both spouses.

No matter how you decide to handle your divorce, hiring experienced legal counsel is the best thing you can do to significantly improve your chances of reaching a favorable outcome for your proceedings. If you have pressing legal questions about your impending divorce, contact an experienced Tulsa, OK, divorce lawyer as soon as possible so they can start working on your case. A good attorney will help you minimize the time you will need to spend in litigation, resulting in substantial savings in your divorce.