Divorce mediation is a collaborative process where you and your spouse work with a neutral third party to reach a mutually agreeable agreement regarding all issues related to your divorce.
To prepare for the mediation session, you should research and organize all of your documents. Think about how you will handle the emotional aspects of the divorce process.
Here are other things you need to know about divorce mediation, how to prepare to avail mediation services, and come up with a marital settlement agreement.
Understand What Divorce Mediation is All About.
Divorce mediation is not the same thing as divorce litigation. In litigation, one party files a complaint against another party and they go through a court process where they present evidence to support their claims.
The judge or jury then decides who wins and how much child custody or spousal support is awarded. The other party may appeal the decision, which means the case would go back before a higher court.
In divorce mediation, however, both parties agree to meet with a mediator to work out an agreement about how property will be divided and how to deal with child support.
The mediator does not decide who wins or loses. Rather than having one person win over another person, both parties must agree on all aspects of the agreement for it to be considered valid by the court.
Organize All Your Documents.
The first thing you will want to do when meeting divorce mediators for the first time is gather your financial and legal documents together and create a divorce mediation checklist.
It includes tax returns, bank accounts and other financial information/financial statements, investment accounts, pension plans, real estate deeds, mortgages, etc.
You will also want to ensure that you have any other relevant information, such as birth certificates and marriage licenses (if applicable).
Keep Your Emotions Checked.
A divorce mediation session is an emotionally charged situation because it involves splitting up your marital property and determining how each party will move forward after the separation process.
As such, both parties need to keep their emotions checked during this mediation and divorce process so that they don’t make decisions based solely on their feelings rather than logic or reasonableness.
Negotiate, Don’t Argue.
In many cases, the people involved in divorce mediation sessions cannot resolve their disputes without help from someone else who can act as a neutral third party.
A good divorce mediator will guide the discussion by asking questions that help each person understand the other’s needs and points of view. Mediation services are not about blaming one another or assigning blame. Rather, it’s about finding solutions that meet everyone’s needs as much as possible.
Privately Speak to Divorce Mediator If Possible
The best way to understand what it’s like to go through the divorce mediation process is to speak privately with the mediator who will handle your case.
You can do this by contacting them directly and asking if you can meet in person or over the phone so that they can answer any questions you have about what happens during a divorce mediation session.
Properly Choose A Divorce Attorney/Professional Divorce Mediator to Handle Your Mediation Sessions.
In addition to speaking with the mediator directly, make sure that your licensed divorce attorney is experienced with handling divorces or family mediation and has experience working with couples who have children together or other issues that might complicate their case.
Both spouses feel comfortable working with this person throughout the process so that they don’t feel pressured into making decisions they are unhappy with later on.
Plan Your Budget.
Before starting your divorce process, you need to plan how much is the flat fee for the mediation. Consider hiring an attorney or a divorce lawyer who can represent both parties during the mediation process.
The cost of hiring family law attorneys varies depending on their experience and legal practice area, but it can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 for both parties in Long Island, New York. In addition, filing fees vary from state to state, ranging from $1,000-$1,750 for both parties.
Educate Yourself to Avoid Common Pitfalls.
There are many common pitfalls that people fall victim to when going through a divorce. For example, many people do not realize they could lose certain assets during their divorce agreement if they fail to protect them beforehand (for example, failing to put an asset in joint names).
Another common pitfall is failing to understand what types of financial claims exist during divorce proceedings (for example, there are usually two types of claims — equitable distribution claims and separate property claims). To avoid these common pitfalls, educate yourself on the basics as the first divorce mediation session is the most important for you and your spouse.
Put All Your Concerns on the Table and Be Ready to Listen.
Is it child support? Are you concerned about the marital settlement agreement? Do you want to know how the family home will be handled? Do you have concerns about your retirement accounts and marital property? Are you worried about your spouse’s debt load and how it might impact the divorce settlement agreement?
Whatever issues concern you, ensure they are all on the table for discussion before proceeding with divorce mediation. It is critical to achieving successful mediation and a fair settlement agreement.
The Bottom Line
For those interested in divorce mediation, you should understand what you can expect from the process. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to divorce mediation, you will likely be able to come up with a fair settlement agreement that works for both parties involved.
Having a divorce mediation checklist can help you prepare for the process and ensure that all of your concerns are addressed during the mediation.