Understanding The Goal of Mediation
In the context of a divorce, mediation is a type of alternative dispute resolution method aimed at helping couples reach a divorce agreement. Mediation can be used to deal with nearly all types of divorce disputes, from property division issues to child visitation schedules. As a dispute resolution tool, mediation is flexible and versatile, allowing couples to resolve their disagreements outside the courtroom. This can save them time, money, and stress.
When a couple decides to go through mediation, they will retain their own attorneys and prepare to meet with the third-party mediator. It is important to remember that mediators neither offer legal advice nor represent either party. Instead, they work as a neutral intermediary that guides the divorcing couple as they work together to come to a resolution.
Below we provide a checklist to help you prepare for divorce mediation.
#1: Consult with Your Attorney
As previously mentioned, you must have your own legal representation during mediation. Your lawyer is a valuable resource when it comes to helping prepare you for mediation. Before attending mediation, you will likely have documents to fill out, which must be submitted before your mediation session or brought with you the day of. You may also be expected to bring records and documents pertaining to your divorce with you to mediation. Your lawyer can help you with all mediation paperwork, ensuring that all your bases are covered and that all documents are prepared correctly.
Your lawyer can also give you a rundown of what to expect from the mediation process. Before attending mediation, list all questions you have, and spend some time reviewing them with your attorney. The more aware you are of the process and how it works, the more likely you are to have a successful mediation session.
#2: Know What You’re Going to be Talking About
Before going to mediation, go over the issues that will be discussed with your lawyer in detail. No two mediation sessions are alike, and the circumstances of your particular case and the issues you are disputing will determine what is discussed and negotiated during your session. For example, some couples use mediation to come to an agreement on every aspect of their divorce, while others may only need to use mediation to resolve one issue.
Common issues dealt with during mediation include:
- Who gets the family home
- How marital debts are divided
- What happens to retirement or investment accounts
- Property division issues
- Child custody and visitation schedules
- Parenting plan disputes
- How parents will communicate with each other about their children
#3: Get Organized
Once you know what topics will be up for debate during your mediation session, collect all necessary records associated with those topics. This will likely include taking an inventory of your shared and individual assets and gathering all your financial records. When itemizing your assets and debts, you want to be as thorough as possible so that nothing is missed or overlooked. If you need clarification on whether something is relevant or necessary, ask your attorney.
#4: Identify the Issues that Matter Most to You
When going into mediation, you want to be prepared to compromise. However, you can’t compromise until you know what is most important to you. Spend time making lists of what you want to achieve from mediation and what you can live without or are willing to concede. This will put you in a better position to negotiate and compromise when necessary.
Working with your attorney to understand what is in your best interests and what option you may have is the best place to start working these things out. A family law firm with extensive mediation experience, like the Law Firm of Johnson & Gaskill PLLC, can also help you uncover options you may not be aware of. Remember, when it comes to mediation, the more prepared you are, the better.
Have questions about mediation? Reach out to our law firm for guidance.