Are You Prepared for Mediation?
There are so many issues that a divorcing couple must face:
- How to tell the children
- Where will each live
- Whether or not they can afford to live separately
Starting mediation can easily add to the apprehension, yet beginning mediation can actually be a positive step toward gaining control of your changing circumstances because the timetable, the agenda and of course, the outcome, are completely up to the two of you.
There are concrete issues that need to be addressed in a Separation Agreement and as each is discussed and resolved, parties can feel that they are one step closer to moving onto the next stage of their lives. I provide my clients with a checklist of these issues and to the extent that their discussing them on their own is helpful, I encourage them to do so. For example, most couples will discuss their ideas on a parenting plan before they begin mediation.
In terms of financial issues, I suggest that clients each begin thinking in terms of a budget for their likely future circumstances. Will each be living in a rental, staying in the house or buying a new home? Parties to a mediation should have an idea of what those costs will be so they can properly draft a budget.
It is also helpful to collect all the financial documents necessary for that aspect of the divorce before beginning the mediation. These include:
- Income tax returns
- Current pay stubs
- Bank and investment account statements
- Retirement account statements
The more prepared a couple is for the mediation, the less time and money will be spent estimating income and assets.
Like many of my colleagues, I use a financial software program which permits clients to download a client version of the program at no cost. I ask clients to enter their financial information in the program and then send it to me. I can then print out their budgets and lists of assets and liabilities, so that they can make changes and revise their budgets as necessary.
When you think about it, it makes sense to be prepared for your mediation sessions. Because cost is always a factor for couples facing divorce, the mediation will be more efficient if all of the information is available at the time that you are having your discussions.
Do you have questions about what you need to be prepared for your mediation?