Divorce mediation, while simpler than heading to divorce court, is still a new experience for most people. It can feel confusing and even complicated. Rest assured, it’s not. Your mediator will be there to help you through the process every step of the way. But to better understand what is involved, follow this divorce mediation checklist to prepare — information-wise, professionally, and emotionally.
Here is a divorce mediation checklist to get you started
When you contact a divorce mediator, they will assist you with the information and paperwork you will need to gather for smooth proceedings. After you and your spouse sign the Agreement to Mediate, you will sit down with the mediator to discuss what will be on your mediation agenda. This can vary based on your life circumstances — for example, do you own property, do you have children, or do either of you own a business? Once you develop the agenda, you will need to start gathering the following documents:
- Records of all assets and debts, from bank accounts and investments to vehicles and property
- Income and expenses for both parties, to help determine child and/or spousal support needs
- Business records, if any
- Children’s and parents’ needs and interests to help develop a parenting agreement
Assembling Your Team
In addition to hiring a divorce mediator, you may want to arrange the services of the following professionals:
- Attorneys for each party. Why do you need an attorney if you have a mediator? A mediator can only provide information to educate the parties. A mediator cannot provide legal advice. While the goal of mediation is to come to an agreement both parties are comfortable with, it is vital that both parties have a full understanding of their legal rights before signing the final agreement. Consulting with an attorney is one way to guarantee you understand your rights and all the decisions that are included in the final document. This will only require a few billable hours of legal consultation, unlike. the countless hours billed when retaining a lawyer for a court battle.
- A business evaluator. If you or your spouse own a business, a business evaluator can help track down the documents needed to establish an income and asset worth. This can save you frustrating busywork during a rough emotional time and a third party can track finances more objectively, ensuring fairness for both parties.
- Family therapist. While divorce mediators are trained to listen compassionately and without bias, they are not trained counselors. A family therapist can help ease your family’s transition into a new way of life, especially if you have children who may need help adjusting to the new circumstances and understanding why their parents divorced.
Related: 6 Reasons To Use A Mediator
Just as important as the papers you gather and the professional help you hire is entering mediation with the right attitude. Use this checklist to prepare emotionally for successful Mediation:
- Tell them why, not just what. Rather than entering divorce mediation with a list of demands, prepare to discuss your needs, concerns and interests. This will help your spouse understand you’re not making demands just to get back at them or out of spite. It will help them understand your point of view and needs.
- Avoid pressing their buttons. While divorce is never a couple’s end goal when they get married, there is a silver lining: a potential end to the fights that led you here. Instead of continuing to argue by pressing their buttons, steer clear of hot topics and aim to be cordial. The goal of mediation is to avoid the fighting that courts can cause, so bring a peaceful heart to the table.
- Give a little. With divorce mediation, each side must cede some ground to come to an agreement. You may not end up with everything you want, but neither will your spouse. To make the process smoother, be ready for some give and take to reach an agreement you can both live with, today and in the future.
Divorce mediation is a smoother, faster process than litigation and a drawn-out court case. And preparing smartly for mediation can make this process even easier. Hiring the right divorce mediator is key, as they will help you understand the process, what information you need, and which outside professionals you may need to hire.