You and your ex have decided to resolve your divorce through mediation. Perhaps you’re feeling a sense of relief that you can avoid a turbulent, drawn-out litigation process. But what do you need to do to get ready for mediation? Will you just show up and hope for the best?
With so much on the line, you don’t want to leave things to chance. It’s important to do your homework and organize your issues. In this post, we’ll walk you through how to do just that:
Have a structured game plan.
If you were settling your divorce in court, you’d hire an attorney, who would prepare for trial by organizing your issues and lining up the evidence. For mediation, you should prepare in much the same way.
When you’re talking about something as big and emotional as everything that’s comprised your shared life with your ex, it’s easy to get tangential and scattered. You might be talking about your kids one minute, which gets you talking about holiday schedules, and suddenly you’ve segued into money. Talking in this way makes it difficult for people to know where to put their attention and whether there’s resolution on any one thing.
Instead, segment out the issues you want to address in advance. If you’re talking about assets, talk only about assets. When you talk about your children, split up each related sub-issue separately – e.g., custody schedule, parenting plan, education and upbringing, etc. It’s also important to think through every nuance of each issue that’s going to be critical over the long term. For example, if your child has special needs, or one parent has limited resources, these should be separate points of discussion.
Get an expert opinion.
Do you have concerns surrounding child or spousal support? Are there other financial questions that you need a clearer understanding of? For such issues – which could impact your financial stability over the long term – you don’t want to just hazard a guess at what seems acceptable. You may want to consult an expert to get some preliminary calculations – e.g., a lawyer, financial analyst or business evaluator.
Collect and organize your facts. Know what your issues are. You can’t be a deal maker if you don’t have all of the information.