Choosing to settle the terms of your divorce through mediation rather than litigation can eliminate a lot of the anxiety in divorce—but it doesn’t remove all of the stress. Divorce involves a lot of changes and complex decisions, and you confront those challenges head on during the mediation process.
When you enter your first divorce mediation session prepared and organized, you lay the groundwork for a smooth decision-making process. Advance preparation allows you to get down to business more quickly and can help speed resolutions, saving you time and money.
Preparing Your Mind and Your Schedule
The mediation process is designed to resolve differences with minimal conflict. But you may encounter conflict in mediation because even when you share interests about a particular issue, you often have different opinions about the best way to protect those interests.
Disagreements may catch you by surprise. Those disagreements could be between you and your former partner—or they could be issues raised by your mediator or a third party such as the bank that holds the mortgage on your home. When you mentally prepare yourself to expect the unexpected, you can avoid some of the frustration and disappointment.
Anticipate that it will take at least two sessions with your mediator to hammer out all the details. Often couples need additional time to consider certain issues or they may lack information they need to make a decision. You may be pleasantly surprised to find that you were able to resolve all issues in a shorter time period, but it can often take multiple sessions to cover all the critical issues.
Set Realistic Goals
Before you start mediation, you should understand what you hope to achieve through the process. You should research or consult an attorney to understand your rights under the law, and you need to do some soul-searching to determine the goals that are most important to you.
During mediation, you will need to reach agreements on a large array of issues that affect your future, including:
- How your property is valued and whether it is marital or separately owned
- How you will divide up secured and unsecured debts and tax liability
- How you will split up property that is owned jointly
- Whether one spouse will pay alimony
- Issues associated with children, including custody, parenting time, child support, and additional expenses
If you operated a business while you were married, your spouse probably has some property interests in that business, even if they did not materially participate. You need to understand what those rights are and what you need to do if you want to disconnect your partner from the business going forward.
Gather Important Documentation
One of the most important–and most tedious–ways to prepare for divorce mediation is to collect and organize all the documents and records associated with your married life. This includes financial records such as bank statements, tax returns, pay stubs, loan information, and credit card bills. You should gather records associated with your home such as your deed and mortgage information and even utility bills.
You will need legal records such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, and name change orders. If you have a prenuptial agreement or estate planning documents, gather those. Don’t forget information about assets such as vehicles and retirement plans. Having this information ready in advance can save valuable time. Gathering this information also helps give you a better understanding of your financial situation as you develop your goals and plans for life after divorce.
An attorney can provide critical information so that you can work toward the best solutions in mediation. To learn more about how the dedicated team at Koiles Pratt Family Law Group can help you prepare for divorce mediation, contact us today for a confidential consultation.