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The Three Types of Alternative Dispute Resolution in Oklahoma Family Law

If you decide to end your marriage in Oklahoma, you do not necessarily need to brace yourself for a difficult protracted court battle. Many divorcing couples in Oklahoma and across the US choose alternative dispute resolution to avoid the stress and expense that divorce litigation typically entails.

There are three main options when it comes to alternative dispute resolution. Remember that no matter which form of alternative dispute resolution you choose, reliable legal counsel from an experienced Oklahoma divorce attorney is paramount for securing an acceptable result in your case. Your attorney can help you determine which approach to alternative dispute resolution would be most beneficial in your situation.

Collaboration

Out of the three main types of alternative dispute resolution available for an Oklahoma divorce, collaboration tends to be the most relaxed and informal. As the name suggests, collaborative divorce requires the divorcing spouses to work together to reach a mutually agreeable resolution to their divorce case. During a collaborative divorce, the two spouses will each have their own divorce attorneys to help guide them through their proceedings, helping the two of them reach a divorce resolution while staying almost entirely out of the court system.

Collaboration is particularly beneficial when one of the divorcing spouses tends to dominate discussions. While a mediator cannot speak on behalf of the less assertive spouse, a collaborative divorce attorney will ensure their client has a fair say during collaborative divorce proceedings. One thing to remember about collaborative divorce is that if you cannot reach a resolution through collaboration, the collaborative divorce attorney who represented you will not be permitted to continue representing you in litigation.

Mediation

Mediation is the most popular form of alternative dispute resolution available to divorcing couples in Oklahoma. At the basic level, mediation is a more formal and structured version of collaboration that allows the divorcing spouses to stay outside the family court system as they reach a divorce agreement. Mediation can save time and money while affording both spouses more control over the outcome of their divorce.

It’s vital to have legal representation as you start the mediation process. While your mediator can help you understand the legal statutes that will come into play in your case, they cannot provide direct legal counsel to you or your spouse. You must have a reliable attorney on your side who can look out for your best interests as you proceed with mediation sessions.

Some divorcing couples may find it hard to imagine having civil discussions with one another, but the reality is that mediation only requires the spouses to be willing to negotiate. You and your spouse’s respective divorce attorneys can relay messages between the two of you if you prefer to avoid direct discussions in mediation. Ultimately, your mediator will help you draft a more personalized divorce resolution than you could have expected from litigation.

Arbitration

The least common form of alternative dispute resolution for an Oklahoma divorce is arbitration. Essentially, arbitration works like a streamlined trial. The two parties choose a neutral arbitrator who will listen to each of their arguments and evaluate the case’s facts. The arbitrator acts like a judge in that once they evaluate the circumstances and material facts of the case, they will deliver a ruling on the divorce.

It’s possible to seek non-binding and binding arbitration. With binding arbitration, both parties waive their right to a trial, and the ruling is completely final. In non-binding arbitration, the parties can both appeal the resolution if they believe it to be unfair or imbalanced.

Arbitration is generally preferable for divorcing couples who want to reach firm resolutions to their divorces but prefer to keep the proceedings out of the court system for privacy. Arbitration is beneficial for divorcing spouses who need a neutral third party to rule on their divorce due to inability or unwillingness to compromise with one another.

Choosing Alternative Dispute Resolution That Works for You

Each of these three forms of alternative dispute resolution offers significant advantages over divorce litigation, but it may be difficult for you to determine which option would work best in your situation. You can save time, money, and stress by taking advantage of alternative dispute resolution, but all three options require the agreement of both divorcing spouses if they are to work as intended. If you are unsure of how to proceed with your divorce, or if you are uncertain as to whether alternative dispute resolution is even a realistic option for your situation, speak with an experienced Oklahoma divorce lawyer as soon as possible to review your options.