Ready? Set? Mediate!
September 30, 2015What to Do Before You Sit Down to Mediate Your Divorce Settlement
After many days, months or even years of stressing and struggling with. the concept of getting divorced, you have finally gotten to the point where it’s time to forge forward. The decision wasn’t an easy one, but you can make the actual divorce process a bit less overwhelming if you opt for mediation over a traditional divorce trial. Many believe the mediation process allows the divorcing spouses to retain some control over decision-making and keeps arguing to a minimum.
However, there are a few things you need to do before you can sit down at the mediation table. If you can get through this list, you have a much better chance at successfully mediating your disputes and coming out on the other side of divorce ready to face a new future.
Agree to Agree — and to Disagree: Discuss mediation and agree to come to the table together. The only way divorce mediation can work is if it is a voluntary process that both sides agree to willingly. You both need to be willing to put your “cards” on the table, so to speak, discuss all items openly and honestly and agree to come to compromises in good faith. This doesn’t mean you will be successful on each and every issue. The point is to go to the mediation table with the intention of working things out.
Get Organized: The mediator can help with much of the process. What they cannot do is get you and your spouse organized when it comes to the issues at hand. The mediator doesn’t know the extent of your assets. They don’t know the specific issues regarding your children and extended family. They don’t know anything at all but what you tell them. So, make sure you have all your information ready to share in an honest, organized fashion. Make lists of all your possessions (including real estate); accounts (liquid, CDs, IRAs, pensions, retirement accounts, etc.); long term obligations (college tuition, businesses); as well as your debts. If you are able to have some discussions about the children, including financial issues such as child support, you can write down some of your thoughts to share with the mediator, as well.
What’s Really Important? Mediation may be considerably less expensive (in some cases) than a traditional court divorce. However, the mediator must be paid, as well. If you are going to spend hours upon hours discussing the minutia of things, you are going to be paying for that time. Figure out what is most important and work toward compromise with those issues. It’s a good idea to set a goal for mediation: what are you hoping to accomplish. Work toward meeting that goal line.
One of the most important things you can do for your family when you are choosing divorce mediation is to select the right mediator. Not all mediators are professionally trained to do the work. It’s in your best interests to choose a mediator who is an experienced divorce lawyer: someone who can advise you as you proceed through the process.
Contact Jonathan Katz to learn more about divorce mediation.