Divorce Mediation Tips: 14 Ways to Prepare for Mediation
Choosing mediation over litigation allows parties to take the decision out of the court’s hands and make it their own. We understand that fear of the unknown can fuel apprehension and stress. Showing up unprepared also wastes your time and money.
This is the strategy we provide our clients to ensure a successful and positive process.
One MONTH Prior To Mediation
1. Secure Childcare and Petcare.
I usually tell clients to start making these arrangements as soon as mediation is booked. The last thing you need to be doing that day is worrying about your babies, human or fur. You should plan for someone to care for your children and pets for the entire day. In North Carolina, mediation is typically an all-day event. Ideally, when you get home the child care responsibilities have been taken care of and your child is fast asleep.? The same is true for your fur babies. You will want to make sure you have someone to take them out, feed them, etc.
2. Agree on a Date to Exchange Pertinent Financial Documents.
Your attorney/mediator will provide you with a list of documents that need to be exchanged prior to mediation. At this point, you have probably already provided your attorney/mediator with certain financial documents and will simply need to update what you have already provided and receive updated information from your spouse. I typically suggest exchanging all pertinent financial documents at least two weeks in advance of mediation.
Two WEEKS Prior to Mediation:
3. Exchange Pertinent Financial Documents.
There is nothing more frustrating than showing up to mediation and spending half the day collecting/requesting or exchanging documents. It is a huge waste of time and money. To the extent it is possible, make sure this has been done well in advance of mediation.
4. Review Financial Records/Request Any Missing Documents. See above.
5. Prepare/Update Your Budget and Asset Chart.
In North Carolina, when we are discussing the issues of child and spousal support, we typically refer to what is called a Financial Affidavit (fancy name for budget). This document outlines your (and your children’s) monthly needs and expenses and will be used to facilitate discussions regarding support. An asset chart is just what it sounds like, a chart that identifies all assets and debts that make up the marital estate. Your attorney will work with you to prepare these documents in advance of mediation and both will be used to facilitate negotiations.
1 Week Prior to Mediation: Meet with your lawyer to…
6. Identify Issues for Negotiation.
The 3 big issues are typically: (1) support (post separation support, alimony and child support if there are children involved); (2) asset division (equitable distribution); and (3) custody.
7. Identify Goals/Priorities/Concerns.
Be specific. For example, instead of saying “custody is the most important issue to me”, identify what custody means to you by getting specific about your goals for the school week, weekends, summer, holidays, vacations, decision making etc. Do you have specific communications concerns you want to address?
8. Identify Options for Resolution.
Sit down with your attorney to discuss various proposals and possible outcomes. Before you show up for mediation, understand your best/worst case scenarios if the case does not get resolved during this process. Ask your attorney what will be necessary to litigate the issues in Court (which may include additional work that has not been done for the purposes of mediation) and ask about the estimated cost of litigating these issues in Court.
3 Days Before Mediation
9. Prepare a List of Usernames and Passwords
or Plan to Take a Personal Device Where You Can Access Financial Documents or Other Pertinent Information Related to Your Children.
10. Plan “Day Of” Logistics.
- Food: Beverages, snacks and lunch are typically provided but you may want to confirm this with your lawyer or mediator. Don’t forget anything specific you may want to have on hand to keep your blood sugar stable.
- Bring something to do: Laptop, magazines, books, work…this is a long day with lots of downtime. If you are not working with your lawyer during breaks, it is nice to be able to focus your attention elsewhere.
- Attire: Be comfortable yet professional. Like traveling on an airplane, office temps vary and cannot always be controlled so dress in layers.
1 Day Before Mediation
We know it’s easier said than done, but try your best to relax. Self-care is so important. Book a massage, go on a walk, get your nails done, meditate, take a bath. Do the things that calm to your spirit.
12 Get a Good Night’s Sleep.
Again, easier said than done but try to get a good night’s sleep.
Day Of Mediation
13. Take a few minutes before you leave the house to set your intention for the day.
You have prepared and now the day is here. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, until you are in a calm and peaceful state. You’ve got this.
According to Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The ancestor of every action is a thought.” Intention is a powerful force, the conscious act of determining your future now. It will set the tone for your day and give you the confidence you need to faciliate a successful mediation.
14. Download Our Mediation Prep Checklist.
Divorce is a difficult time. It’s hard to be strategic when you’re scared. Reducing your stress and fear with relevant resources is a critical priority.
At Claire Samuels Law, PLLC, we guide our clients through this highly emotional process with compassion and foresight.
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