Divorce can be an incredibly tough and stressful experience. It can leave you feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and even hopeless. Choosing mediation is an excellent first step toward making your divorce go as smoothly as possible.
Divorce mediation is an effective way of resolving conflicts between divorcing couples without having to go to court. It’s a voluntary process where both parties are assisted by an impartial and qualified mediator to reach an agreement that meets the needs of both parties. The mediator helps the couple to identify issues, explore options, and settle on mutually agreeable terms. It’s an informal process that can be conducted in person or online, allowing couples to work through their issues in a confidential setting.
If you’re about to attend your first divorce mediation meeting, you must prepare certain documents and think through important issues, so that you can achieve optimal results.
Below, we share the essential checklist to make sure you’ve got all your bases covered before and during the divorce mediation.
Hire a Skilled Divorce Mediator
Hiring the right divorce mediator or divorce mediation team to guide you is the first step in the process.
You may think that all divorce mediators work the same way and you don’t care who you choose. So you will pick the one listed first or the one with the lowest fee.
Mediation is not a regulated profession in the United States. You should be cautious about who you trust with your divorce. You will need expertise to deal with the complex issues that you’ll face. This can only be achieved through training, certifications, and continuing education, as well as years of experience.
Learn to find an expert divorce mediator, because the most important tip is to choose a team of highly-skilled and experienced professionals. This will help you to avoid court litigation and ensure that your divorce is as cost-effective and peaceful as possible.
You should also ask the mediator how you can pay before the session. Attorney mediators typically charge around $250 to $500/hour while their non-attorney mediators typically charge about $150 less. Also, make sure that both you and your spouse agree on how to split the costs.
Prepare a Detailed List of All Your Assets And Liabilities
You should make an inventory of all financial assets and liabilities that are relevant to your divorce, whether you plan to settle it through trial or mediation (alongside any supporting documents, such as current financial statements). If you have no or few assets or debts this step should not be too difficult.
If you have a business or own a house, have a retirement account, or have credit card debt, then you will have to do more work. You can ask your attorney to help you with organizing your inventory list, supporting documents, and any missing information from your spouse.
A complete and accurate listing of all marital assets is essential to the divorce mediation process. An attorney can help you understand the issues and simplify them as much as they can. It’s important to keep accurate financial spreadsheets and explain how different scenarios will impact your divorce settlement (tax implications and controlling ownership of assets, business incomes, retirement accounts, Alimony, and Spousal Support). This will have an impact on your final divorce settlement.
Prepare a List of Key Topics
Divorce mediation can be an emotionally charged and complex process. It’s important to prepare for the mediation by making sure that all of the key topics are discussed and addressed. To ensure that the process is as smooth as possible, it’s beneficial to create a list of topics you want to cover before attending your divorce mediation.
This list should include any questions or concerns that you have and should also provide an overview of what you would like to accomplish in the mediation session. By having a comprehensive list of topics, you can make sure that all relevant issues are discussed during your divorce mediation session.
Participate Actively and Ask the Right Questions
Divorce mediation is all about reaching an agreement peacefully and resolving a divorce amicably. You should enter mediation with an unprejudiced mind, and accept that neither side will get what they want. Focus on reaching an agreement with both parties, not on your opinion of how divorce mediation should proceed.
You should also ask yourself the right questions concerning your goals and what problems you’re trying to resolve. Keep in mind what you want to accomplish during the divorce process and what issues are important to you. Do not lose sight of the goals you have set, whether it’s child custody, asset distribution, or child maintenance.
Successful divorce mediation requires that both spouses disclose all relevant information.
It’s therefore important to put in the extra effort and time and consider the above checklist when gathering all pertinent information. This will be very beneficial for you and your partner later when analyzing your estate together with your mediator, and making those crucial decisions for your future.