Six Steps You Need to Follow Before You Start Divorce Mediation
You might consider mediation for divorce. If you and your spouse wish to divorce amicably but need help reaching a complete agreement, this is a great idea.
There are many benefits to working with a good mediator. You can save money on legal fees and costs, work at your own pace and keep out of court.
“Divorce does not mean the end of a relationship; it is a reorganization.” Esther Perel, a Belgian relationship therapist and author.
It is worth spending a bit of time to prepare for mediation. This will help you get a fair result. These six steps can be taken before you start mediation.
Consider legal coaching
A good legal coach will understand the mediation process, and can even act as a mediator. However, he or she won’t advocate a lawyered up approach to Divorce Mediation. An expert in divorce law, a legal coach can offer advice and help you understand what to expect. Your coach will help you understand the mediation process, listen and address your concerns, strategize your position and prepare your response for different scenarios.
Before starting mediation, we recommend that you meet with a lawyer coach at least three times. Before finalizing the settlement agreement, your legal coach should review it.
Your mediator cannot be a party to any dispute. It is your responsibility to make sure that the agreement clearly outlines your wishes and needs. Failure to set a date for the end of spousal support payments can have unexpected financial consequences. The agreement should clearly state the date that support will cease. If you and your ex don’t want to make that decision now, at least you should agree in writing that you will review spousal support terms later (and, if possible, when).
Be careful when choosing a mediator
There are many types of mediators. How can you choose the right one for you? Facilitative, evaluative and transformative are the most common styles of mediation.
Facilitative mediators are great for helping to foster productive conversations. They can also be helpful if your spouse is prone to arguing. Evaluative mediators can help you understand the legal merit of your requests, such as your request for primary custody or your spouse’s desire to sell your marital property. Transformative mediators work more like counselors in that they enable you to talk about your problems in a safe environment with the intent of finding solutions.
When interviewing potential mediators, ask questions
These questions will help you to choose the right mediator for your case.
- Which mediation style do you prefer?
- Are you willing to meet my spouse and me in one room or do you prefer to travel between rooms? Are you able to hold sessions via Zoom, Skype, or phone?
- How do you define your availability? What are your availability dates?
- Are you going to prepare, file, and process our divorce paperwork? Or will that be up to us?
- Is it a retainer that you require upfront, and then bill against that? Or do you charge a flat rate? What is your hourly rate? What is your hourly rate?
- Which type of certification or training in mediation have you received?
Listen with an open mind.
We want everyone to be successful in mediation. Although this tip is technically about what to do during mediation it is a good idea for people to think about it before.
You may hear your spouse say hurtful, false, or counterproductive things. Your mediator will be able see past unreasonable requests. When communication heats up, take a deep breath. Pay attention and listen carefully. Try to remain calm and not interrupt or attack your spouse.
Mediation discussions can be kept on track if both parties practice good listening skills. Even if you disagree with your ex, it can be beneficial to empathize and relate with them. They may be more cooperative if they feel heard. These communication skills can be practiced ahead of time to make them second nature during mediation.
Do not rush the process
It can be difficult to negotiate complex financial contracts or fight for the best interests of your children while also ending one of your most important relationships. Meditation is exactly that. This process is not for everyone. It can be difficult, especially if you have financial problems. Emotions can be exhausting, good and bad.
Take a deep breath and give yourself a break. It may seem difficult, given all the obligations in life, but it’s possible. For a few moments, meditate. Take a few minutes to watch a comedy and have fun. Do not be hard on yourself. Perhaps you have forgotten who you are and now you are rebuilding your self. You are welcome to return.
Get your financial information together now
Start gathering your financial documents now, assuming you have access. If you don’t have a clear understanding of your financial documents and how they were acquired, you can’t prepare for mediation.
If you and your grandmother bought a house together, but she paid the down payment, you will likely seek to return that money. It is important to prove that you have the documentation or financial statements necessary to prove it. People can forget important facts that could cause financial harm, and it is not unusual for their memories to be blurred.
If you are lucky, your spouse and you will both work together to compile the documents. Below is a list of documents that you might want to collect.
- Federal and state tax returns
- Pay stubs
- W-2s and/or 1099s
- Partnerships and other business interests valuations
- Valuation of real estate properties (it’s fine if you don’t have it yet).
- Kelley Blue Book Value on Cars and Trucks
- Account records for savings, checking, money market and CD accounts
- Non-retirement investment statements in stocks, bonds and secured notes.
- Record of executive compensation, including stock options and restricted stock units or other executive comps
- Statements on retirement account and pension
- Annuities, IRAs and records of deferred compensation
- Policies for life insurance
- Recoverables records and unsecured note
- Real estate loans
- Credit card and line credit records
- Evidence of separate property contributions
- Information about health insurance
- Cost of extracurricular activities, such as camps and other expenses related to kids.
- Determine your non-negotiables
What are you unable to live without? What would you give up to have that? Perhaps it’s your home. Your house could be your most valuable asset. You might not want your children to move schools. Consider what you are willing to sacrifice in return for this.
Retirement benefits and financial support are two other possible non-negotiables. You need to think about what is important to you in order not prolong the divorce process or pay more. In 90 days, will the [insert thing] really matter? One year? Five years?