Divorce is a notoriously challenging process for many reasons. It’s an emotional experience and one that poses significant financial implications for everyone who goes through it. If you are preparing to end your marriage in Oklahoma City, OK, it’s natural to wonder about what you can do to make this arduous process easier on yourself. Luckily, there are several options available to you in Oklahoma that can potentially streamline your divorce case. A few best practices can also help you approach your divorce case with greater confidence.

Explore Alternatives to Divorce

If you and your spouse have had marital complications for a long time, divorce may seem like the natural solution that would allow both of you to move on with your lives separately. However, if you think there could be any room for reconciliation, it is usually worth exploring these options. In addition, ending your marriage imposes several complex issues on you and your family, many of which can persist for years, even the rest of your life. Therefore, it’s vital to weigh the decision to divorce very carefully and consider potential alternatives before you take any formal steps toward ending your marriage.

One potential alternative to divorce is legal separation. This entails many of the same issues that divorce does without the finality of a divorce. Many couples use legal separation as a “cooling off” period to determine whether they need to end their marriages. In contrast, others use it as a springboard for divorce, making it much easier once they decide to go through with it. You should consult an experienced Oklahoma City family law attorney about potential alternatives to divorce that may be more suitable for your circumstances.

Prepare for Financial Disclosure

One of the most critical aspects of the divorce process is property division, which entails dividing all of a married couple’s shared property and establishing respective separate property ownership rights for each spouse. It’s natural for divorcing spouses to want to preserve their financial interests as much as possible, and property division is likely to be a hotly contested issue in many divorce cases.

To proceed with property division, divorcing spouses must complete financial disclosure statements. These statements include their claimed separate property ownership rights and records of all shared marital property. Oklahoma enforces equitable distribution, and it’s possible for a divorcing couple to privately negotiate property division in divorce mediation or leave the final decision up to a judge in litigation. In either case, a divorcing spouse must provide a complete and accurate financial disclosure statement that outlines all of their property, assets, and debts in complete detail.

You must be honest and accurate with your financial disclosure statement. While honest mistakes can and do happen, intentionally hiding assets from divorce can have severe consequences. A divorcing spouse who lies in their financial disclosure statement could face contempt of court. If a judge is making any final decisions on the divorce, that spouse’s behavior is sure to influence their decisions. Additionally, lying in financial disclosure can potentially lead to criminal charges for fraud and lying under oath. Your financial disclosure statement is a sworn statement, so it’s essential to have your attorney assist you in completing this step of the divorce process to ensure a fair property division determination.

Consider Alternative Dispute Resolution

Many couples divorcing in Oklahoma choose alternative dispute resolution to speed up the divorce process while saving the money and time that litigation typically requires. When you litigate your divorce, the proceedings can take more than a year to complete depending on the complexity of your case. Additionally, litigation means the final say on every aspect of your divorce is left in the hands of the judge.

Mediation offers more control over the outcome of your divorce while saving both you and your spouse time and money. You must both agree on a mediator who does not hold any conflicts of interest that might favor either of you. This mediator will oversee your negotiations, keep discussions focused and productive, and ultimately assist you in drafting your divorce agreement.

If you and your spouse cannot seem to agree on anything and fight constantly, mediation may not seem like a realistic option for your situation. However, this is not necessarily true. If both you and your spouse can look past your personal tension enough to recognize the potential value of taking full advantage of mediation, both of you can easily recognize the potential benefits. Even if you cannot reach firm agreements on every aspect of your divorce through mediation, you can still cover what you can with the mediation process before moving to litigation to settle the remainder of your divorce. This will still save both of you significant amounts of time and expense.

Hire Experienced Legal Counsel

Perhaps the most important thing you can do to make your divorce easier on yourself is hiring the right attorney to represent you in divorce proceedings. Reliable legal counsel is an invaluable resource in any divorce case. Even if you think you can manage your proceedings unassisted, the reality is that your case is likely to cover more issues than you may initially realize. You may not know how to appropriately address some of these issues without the guidance of an Oklahoma City divorce lawyer.

Your attorney can assist with the procedural side of your case and significantly streamline the overall process. They can handle your court filings on your behalf, file any necessary pretrial motions your situation may demand, and help you navigate every stage of your divorce proceedings, whether you choose to take advantage of alternative dispute resolution or proceed directly to litigation.

Keeping the aforementioned tips in mind as you begin the divorce process will make the whole experience much easier for you. The legal counsel you can trust will allow you to approach the case with greater confidence and understanding of your legal options. If you are unsure how to begin the divorce process or want to have an easier time managing the various complex aspects of your divorce, consult an Oklahoma City, OK, divorce attorney as soon as possible.