How to Prepare for the Mediation Process
Duncan E. White, Owner
Inkpointe Divorce Solutions, LLC
IRMO, SC – Most people facing their day in court would avoid it if they could. When facing a divorce, that urge is just as strong. The first step you may want to take is to go through mediation. The mediation process helps you and your partner reach a mutually beneficial divorce settlement.
So, Why Mediation?
Besides the whole court avoidance issue, if you have children, jointly owned real estate, and investments, mediation may be your wisest option. Once you have decided on a divorce, the next step is to decide how to split up your assets and set child custody, support and visitation rights. A mediator is an impartial third party that can guide a couple in the negotiations preceding the actual divorce decree.
In addition to trust issues, unraveling your marital ties is a very emotional thing. During this time, many of us find it hard to stay rational, and a mediator can help you both reach the point where you can compromise, and eventually, agree on important decisions. While a mediator can’t give legal advice, they can teach you to communicate more efficiently. In a situation where you both desire to reach an amicable agreement and are able to be in the same room, mediation may be the right choice for you. You can even conduct mediation over the phone or online in some instances, if needed.
Mediator, Take The Wheel?
If you do choose mediation as an alternative path, you still need to be prepared. Divorce court is not a place to fly by the seat of your pants! Neither is a divorce mediation. It still comes with much of the stressful procedures of a typical case. And if you go in unprepared, you may lose out on the settlement that you desire.
Mediators only work with you and your partner to settle the important decisions a divorce forces you to make. They will not tell you what you should do. Nor will they make decisions for you. So, think about what you want your life to look like when this process is done. And focus on what you need from the separation to get there.
Meeting With Your Divorce Mediator
When you go to your first meeting with your divorce mediator, bring a list of your jointly owned assets, a valuation of your home, a copy of any prenuptial agreement, copies of income tax returns and retirement account statements. Take a notebook and pen and ask any questions you may have! This is your divorce! Take control of how it gets handled!
Write down everything you need to remember and talk about fees. This is where having a financial expert like a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® (CDFA®) becomes paramount to the mediation process. The first meeting with a divorce mediator will be to assess your situation, get a feel for the chemistry between the couple, and to get to know the mediator.
Although the mediation is held in an office or meeting room, it should still feel like an informal atmosphere. The mediator strives to create a relaxed situation so that both partners can remain calm. One of the main goals of the mediator is to help the couple find creative ways to communicate and reach an agreement – especially if strife does exist between the couple. There’s no set frequency for a session and every divorce is unique. Some couples find they only need a few sessions, while others may need more.
You should find that mediation saves money on attorney fees and is one of the best ways to prepare for your divorce. Ultimately, being able to avoid court will make for a better day for the whole family!
Duncan E. White is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA®) and has been a licensed financial advisor since 2010. He leads a Second Saturday Divorce Workshop each month for the benefit of those seeking information about the divorce process.
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Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. LPL Financial and Inkpointe Divorce Solutions do not offer tax, legal or mortgage lending services or advice.