If you want to resolve your divorce peacefully, then divorce mediation is for you. No attorney fees, no court proceedings – just you and your ex-spouse. Well, and a mediator.
But that does not mean it will be easy. Divorce mediation means lots of tough decisions await. And by far the hardest part is going to reach an agreement that satisfies you both.
That is why you should not neglect preparations.
Below you will find five things that will get you ready for divorce mediation.
Being in agreement
Otherwise, the whole thing is pointless. Make sure you and your ex-spouse are equally OK with getting a divorce mediation. An honest and to the point conversation will help you determine if that is the case.
Sure, it is difficult and might seem impossible. But that is what divorce mediation is about. Consider the advantages of mediation as opposed to other methods. Understand if both of you are ready to commit.
After you are done with that, handle the practical matters. Discuss how you will choose the mediator, share the fees and which dates are most suitable for both of you.
Divorce mediation will only work if you know what you want and voice it clearly. Therefore, you need to get ready in advance. Get all your messy thoughts on paper. Hey, not an official one! Just a list for your own convenience.
Make a list of all assets and possessions that you have. At this stage do not think what is whose. Just write down everything you own. Your list should consist of the following:
- Real property
- Personal property
- Bank accounts
- Credit cards
- Retirement accounts
- Life insurance
The same goes for all your income sources. Which are the following but not limited to:
- Self-employment profit
- Social security
- Pension disbursements
- Child support payments received
And finally, the same goes for expenses. Which means list down the following:
- Mortgage payments
- Health insurance
- Car loans
- Food utilities
- Student loans
- Credit card payments
Being crystal clear
Now when you drown in a pile of lists, it is time to filter. And balancing priorities is not always easy. It will take some time to determine what you truly need.
In the process, you will see how you will be ready to give up on some things while others will become unshakable.
However, you know everything will not run as smooth as you want to. Terms will change, proposals will be made. Consider the possible variables to make sure your priorities do not vanish.
There is one thing which stands above all. Keep your financial affairs away from everything related to your children. And make sure you are not using one to influence the other.
And finally, do not forget to take care of your budget. What does it look like now? How will it change after divorce? This will put your needs in context.
Talking to your mediator
One on one. You can ask to do that once or twice. Most mediators will agree. You can express your concerns knowing that none of that will be transformed to the other party.
The mediator will not have much to do if the only discussions take place with both you and your spouse in the room. The mediator needs to understand the intentions and priorities of both parties beforehand. So do not feel betrayed to find out that the mediator dedicated equal time to your ex-spouse.
Thinking about your children
Your separation is hard on them too. Being attentive to your children’s’ needs is among the first steps you should take when divorce is on the horizon. Talk to them together, explain what is happening. Besides that, when discussing custody parental access, think about where your kids will stay, where they will go to school, etc. Do they have any special needs and preferences? Make sure those are met.
If you are divorcing on good terms, that means you will still undertake some important decisions related to your kids together. Your kids will grow up with various milestones on their ways. And it will be stressful for them not to have both of their parents by their side. During divorce mediation, dedicate a considerable amount of time to discuss co-parenting.
Choosing the right mediator
People make money out of nothing. Well, actually, out of listening to your personal problems and doing nothing. Not everybody is trained. So be careful.
Since mediation is relatively new, few state laws and mandates exist to monitor the practice. Here are a number of questions you should ask a mediator before using their services:
- Did they complete a basic mediation course? How long did the training last?
- Are they certified in basic mediation or family mediation?
- What organization or firm gave them the certification?
- How many cases have they mediated? What type of cases those were.
Divorce mediation can be the best way to cope when things are falling apart. Because at the core, it is about negotiation and not about conflict and outrage. Staying flexible and hoping for the best will help.