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Preparing for the Initial Mediation Meeting

September 11, 2019  | 
Papers with title mediation on a table.

{3:30 minutes to read} Both the clients and the mediator want to be sure that the first meeting is productive, both because of the cost involved and because everyone wants to feel that something was accomplished and momentum is building.

That’s why at the initial consultation I suggest clients to do the following before scheduling the first meeting:

Review the checklist I provide.

To the extent that it’s productive for them to do so, I suggest that clients talk about the issues that need to be addressed in order to have a separation agreement. Anything done outside of the mediation session would save time (and money). I’ve found that most clients start the mediation with some ideas on parenting and possibly asset distribution. Support, on the other hand, is more of a hot-button issue and may be better left for the mediation.
 
I also emphasize that if the discussions aren’t productive and lead to conflict, then they shouldn’t talk substance outside of the mediation. In that case, I suggest that they read through the checklist and the brief summary of the law that I also provide, and get some ideas as to proposals that they would want to make on the relevant topics. 
 

Enter budgets into the software.

I use Family Law Software which allows clients to enter their financial information into this web-based program, which is then submitted to me. From there, I can review and then send back to them their expenses in budget form, so we can start discussions on support.
 
If the couple hasn’t already agreed upon what is happening to the family home, I suggest they hold off on doing budgets until we speak about their future housing. It only makes sense for them to do budgets based upon what their expenses will be when they physically separate — as opposed to their expenses when they are sharing a home.
 
Since budgets are a vital component in agreeing upon support, the initial entry is a small-yet-vital component to getting the discussion started. We will spend time in the mediation going over budgets, confirming expenses and discussing the appropriate income to use for each.
 
If it appears that the budgeting isn’t in the clients’ wheelhouse, we will discuss engaging a financial professional. 
 

Gather financial documents.

I provide clients with a list of financial documents that they will need to produce and exchange in the mediation. To the extent that they apply, they need to bring copies to the meeting or provide them in advance.
 
Since full and complete financial disclosure is a necessary component of mediation, it’s important to have all of this available at the beginning of the mediation. 
 

Good preparation not only helps mediation to progress effectively, but it serves to ease your concerns. Doing something constructive and practical is a good way to calm the nerves and relieve the stress that is inevitable when you begin this emotional and intimidating process.

Clare Piro Attorney and Mediator

Attorney & Mediator
500 Mamaroneck Avenue | Suite 320
Harrison, NY 10528
Tel: 914.946.0848

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