According to the American Psychological Association, approximately 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the U.S. will divorce or have divorced from each other. Divorce mediation results in comprehensive agreements in up to 80 percent of divorce cases, so it is important to learn how to prepare for divorce mediation. The results of divorce mediation often depend upon the skill of the divorce mediator, as well as the balance, or imbalance, of bargaining power between the two spouses.
Divorce mediation is a voluntary settlement process that is frequently used by divorcing couples to lead to self determination in resolving their marital disputes. With the guidance of a skilled divorce mediator, spouses are more often than not able to reach a mutual agreement that is tailored for their finances and needs of their family.
Preparing For Divorce Mediation
Divorce is almost always a stressful experience, but divorce mediation can make the process a little easier on both parties. Through divorce mediation, spouses are able to talk through their differences and make important decisions for their future. Mediation also allows each spouse to be in control over the decision-making process rather than a judge.
Before attending a divorce mediation session, take the time to prepare mentally, emotionally and physically. Preparing with your experienced divorce attorney is an absolute must. Results in divorce mediation can vary widely, but almost always, the spouse with the highly skilled divorce attorney is likely to have a better result from divorce mediation.
Here are some important steps to take when preparing for divorce mediation.
Agree With Your Spouse To Mediate
Divorce mediation is rarely successful unless both parties are willing to put in the work. Often when divorcing, one spouse is emotionally further along than the other spouse in the process of moving forward in life. It is critical for that spouse to understand the other spouse needs to get comfortable with the concept of divorcing in order to talk about the options involved in the divorce process. Mediation is one of those options, and often, the best option for moving forward in your life.
Create List Of Assets, Records & Debts
Do not show up at the mediation session empty-handed, and do not show up unprepared. Meet with your highly experienced divorce attorney first. Have notes, a script or anything else that will assist you in the mediation process. Often, divorce attorneys are present for mediation, which is almost always helpful in moving forward towards an agreement.
Take time to gather the necessary documents and records to ensure that all bases are covered. Start by making a list of all assets, property and possessions of value. This may include smaller items, such as artwork, jewelry and furniture, as well as more substantial items like vehicles, homes and bank accounts. Next, gather all records of income sources, such as paystubs and social security. If there is accumulated debt, such as mortgage or vehicle payments, create a list of these expenses.
Some states will also require each spouse to submit a financial affidavit that confirms the truthfulness of the financial data given. Again, your experienced divorce attorney will guide you through the process of preparing for mediation.
Establish Goals For Mediation
It is important to have goals in mind before attending mediation. In addition to knowing what assets and possessions must be divided, each spouse will want to know what they would like to walk away from the marriage with and what items they are okay parting with. Create a list of items of financial or personal value with the most important assets at the top. When going through the divorce mediation process, each spouse must be willing to negotiate and be fair when dividing assets. This is also a good time for spouses to take a good look at their budgets and determine what their financial situation will look like post-divorce.
In fact, divorce is a great time to take a snapshot of your life and determine where you would like to see yourself in the future. Be honest with yourself, and you will craft a plan to move forward to the next stage of your life.
Keep The Best Interest Of The Children In Mind
Divorces are hard on the entire family, especially children. When preparing for mediation, consider what is in the best interest of each child. Divorce mediation pushes parents to maintain a united front and make decisions that not only impact them but the family as a whole. When discussing issues regarding money, property and assets, consider how each decision will affect the children.
For example, the parent with physical custody of the child may greatly benefit from keeping the family home, either for a short time or permanently. During mediation, the mediator will discuss tough topics like child custody and child support. Be prepared to answer questions pertaining to these subjects. As long as you are prepared walking into mediation, there will be no surprises, which will give you a tactical advantage in the mediation room.
Perform Research On Local Divorce Mediators
Not all divorce mediators have the same level of experience and training. Before hiring a divorce mediator, perform some basic research about the person. Ask about their experience, how long they have been conducting mediation and if they have any formal training. Also ask how many cases they have mediated and what types of cases. If the mediation is Court-ordered, you may not have a choice as to the mediator. That can create issues, especially since the skill level of mediators varies so widely.
Moreover, some mediators are known as better for child related issues, while others are better for financial issues. Some mediators are attorneys, while others are retired judges. Often, the better quality mediator will lead to the better quality mediation experience.
Speak With A Professional Maryland Family Law Attorney
Choosing to participate in the divorce mediation process is the first and most important step. Mediation is often preferred over going to court, as it allows both spouses to communicate with each other in a comfortable environment with help from a neutral third party. Preparing for mediation in the weeks before the session can help ensure that no important details are overlooked. Ideally, each spouse should attend a divorce mediation session with a highly experienced divorce attorney.
For more information on how to prepare for divorce mediation or to speak with a professional family law attorney, contact the legal team at SIEGELLAW, where Harry Siegel has been mediating high conflict and high asset divorce cases for many years and where the attorneys at SIEGELLAW all participate in the mediation process with their clients. Contact SIEGELLAW by calling (410) 792-2300 or by requesting a consultation online.