The pain of a difficult personal divorce helps Eduardo Vicente Mora relate to clients as a Tulsa County mediator.
That experience and empathy earned him the 2014 Early Settlement Volunteer Mediator of the Year Award for Oklahoma.
Mora, a case manager for Carr & Carr Attorneys at Law, became a mediator volunteer in 2001 after seeing a newspaper article asking for help.
The Tulsa County Early Settlement Mediation program transitioned to Tulsa County July 1 from the City of Tulsa where it had begun in 1982.
LeiLani Armstrong, J.D., director, praised Mora and his work that has made a difference in people’s lives and the courts during the past 15 years.
Mora started in the civil division and helped resolve landlord-tenant disputes, small claims and other matters.
He saw the need to fill a similar role in the family court, especially when there was considerable friction between the parties.
That led to a conversation with Armstrong who learned about the mediator’s bitter divorce battle in New York many years before.
Mora took the required additional training and moved to the family court docket.
“I admit that I didn’t know what to expect as a mediator when I applied,” Mora said. “I am glad I did. I have the support of my employer.”
Mora’s services are especially important in domestic cases because of his Puerto Rican background and his ability to reach out to the Hispanic community. He also is a valuable link between other ethnic communities in Tulsa.
All disputing families, regardless of language, have a common tie,” Mora said. “Because of my divorce experience many years ago I have a background that I am able to apply to their current situations.”
Rules are in place that everyone must follow before the mediation process can begin, Armstrong said.
But, it is up to Mora to apply those rules.
When both parties are particularly combative, Mora opens the session and allows them to vent their feelings for a few minutes.
Just as unexpectedly, he asks about their children, how they are doing, the activities they are involved in and their ages.
Pictures are pulled quickly from purses and billfolds.
Mora laughed as he noted that he now sees about as many pictures of children on cell phones.
He has accomplished his first goal. He has broken part of the chain of bitterness where adults insist on talking — arguing — one on one.
Then, Mora points out that regardless of the outcome of the domestic dispute, both adults are involved with the children for a long time in the future.
Parents begin talking in a civil manner to each other even though initially they might not want to.
“At the end of the day they must talk to each other,” he said.
They will be attending the activities the children are involved in and there will be family gatherings where they will see each other. They need to be able to come to the table with an understanding of the issues with the realization there is more involved than themselves.
“We focus on the best interests of the child,” Armstrong said. “Adults need to be effective parents of their children, especially when very small children are involved.”
Sometimes the picture is one-sided.
One party in the divorce tends to give up too much in the process without considering the bigger picture, Mora said.
Mora works with Tulsa’s Hispanic community and meets clients in a Carr & Carr satellite office in the Plaza Santa Cecilia.
It is during these meetings that he helps bridge the gap of mistrust within the community towards the legal system including police and the courts.
“I am able to guide them towards help with civil concerns that include landlord-tenant issues and family matters,” Mora said.
“That relationship building has been critical for the Hispanic community,” Armstrong said.
Mora also serves on the Greater Hispanic Chamber board of directors.
His goal as a mediator is to listen to people with problems and help them resolve difficult issues as amicably as possible.
They meet in a neutral area, with or without attorneys, and are treated like adults instead of squabbling children.
Mora says that helping people in this manner is part of his service to the community.
“Tulsa is a great city and volunteers are making the difference in its successes,” Mora said. “Tulsa has a lot to offer everyone. I am happy to be here. I was blown out of my mind to receive 2014 Early Settlement Volunteer Mediator of the Year for Oklahoma!” «