How to Prepare for Your Divorce Mediation
Divorce mediation involves discussing and making decisions regarding property, child custody and support, and spousal support with a former partner or a mediator. The mediator is a professional in dispute resolution. They can be an attorney or a former judge. The mediator manages the conversation between the two spouses. They do not make decisions for them. They do not represent either party in the mediation.
Mediation typically takes place prior to divorce trials. It is done when a divorce has been filed and an uncontested divorce is not possible. An uncontested divorce is an easy way to get a cheap divorce in Huntsville or wherever you reside if both parties are in complete agreement without any outside help from the start. Mediation is done typically when the parties cannot reach an agreement by themselves and need outside help in the form of a mediator.
Mediation can not only occur in a divorce, but also when the former partners have been legally separated, i.e. the court has issued an order of legal separation. After the spouses draft an agreement in mediation, they may sign the agreement. The spouses then present the agreement to the judge. The judge may issue the terms of the agreement as orders in the divorce case.
A party who is represented by a divorce attorney should discuss what is likely to happen prior to the actual mediation. This allows them to understand the legal consequences of entering into certain agreements. Here are five additional tips for a person about to engage in divorce mediation.
- Learn the financial consequences of agreements on certain matters, such as the amount of spousal support.
It helps to speak to a financial counselor to create a plan about what you want to do during and after the divorce. Estimate how much temporary spousal support you need or can provide. Think of your next steps after the divorce itself. Draft rough spreadsheets that look ahead six months, one year, and two years, at minimum. Use the numbers you have, such as the current and estimated mortgage payments for the family home. Avoid making major decisions regarding property division without determining how you will support yourself and/or minor children.
- If your child is old enough and wants to discuss visitation and/or custody arrangements, talk to your child to see what they want. Represent that honestly in the divorce mediation.
If you falsify information, this will cause concerns with your child and former partner. Talk to your attorney about recording what your child says to present that in mediation. Playing the recording is likely to cause you and your former partner to become emotional. Give yourself time to recover. A 10-minute break may help.
- Review relevant prenuptial and postnuptial agreements regarding property division.
You should discuss these documents with your attorney before entering into mediation. Let them know the circumstances under which you signed the documents. They should tell you if the agreements are fundamentally unfair or unconscionable. The court may invalidate an agreement that leaves you with no means of financial support and debt from the marriage.
- Review documents that support your position. Bring copies of them to the mediation if necessary. Keep the originals at home.
It is a good idea to scan or take photos of the documents. Then you can share them with the other party and the mediator using a smartphone. Documents that may help you include:
- estimates of your budgets, for at minimum six months, one year, and two years after the divorce.
- notes on your plans for your next steps after the divorce, at minimum six months, one year, and two years after the divorce.
- expenses you are planning for a minor child for at minimum six months, one year, and two years after the divorce. Think about the activities in which your child is already involved, such as music or sports. Include those expenses, like band camp, soccer equipment, or cheerleading-related travel, in your budgets. Don’t forget contributions to college savings accounts and health savings accounts if applicable.
- Discuss how the divorce mediation may affect you with a mental health professional before it takes place. Go over how the mediation went with the mental health professional afterwards.
Consider writing down your feelings and thoughts regarding the mediation for about 5 to 15 minutes immediately after the event. You may also want to write down your ideas about the mediation the next day. Next, sort out what concerns a mental health professional can cover. Separate these from the concerns a lawyer should address.
It’s important to be aware of your feelings about the divorce mediation. It’s a good idea to review what went well, what was expected, what was unexpected, and loose ends to tie up. You may have additional questions after the mediation, such as what to do if you think the mediator was biased. This is a common problem. If you are in this situation, talk about your feelings regarding this with a mental health professional. Discuss the legal “how to” steps with an attorney.