Tips For Preparing For Your First Divorce Mediation Session

If you're facing divorce, you might assume that a lengthy court battle is the only way you and your soon-to-be former spouse can settle your differences. However, before you begin mentally preparing yourself for the struggle ahead, realize there is another way you can peacefully come to a resolution with your spouse: mediation. If you and your spouse are considering divorce mediation, here are a few tips to help you prepare for your first meeting:

Gather All the Necessary Documentation First

Many couples choose mediation because it is less litigious and is often less expensive. However, the only way that mediation will work for you is if you come prepared. This includes bringing all the necessary documentation to the first mediation session.

Having all the necessary documents will help move the process along, which allows you to save money and time. Here are a few of the documents you need to make sure are filled out and with you when you step into the first mediation session:

  • All Sources of Income – Whether you're a full-time employee or an independent contractor, it is vital to bring along proof of all your sources of income. Don't attempt to hide any types of income because this will only slow down the process.
  • A Budget – Create a realistic monthly budget that includes your children's expenses, as well. This budget will be used to determine any spousal support or division of assets and accounts.
  • List of Assets – Create a detailed list of assets, and make sure to include which you'd like to keep. Be prepared to fight for what you really want to keep and what you're willing to give up.
  • List of Debts – Make a list of all of your and your spouse's debts. Include the mortgage, car payments, personal loans and credit cards.

Make a List of Issues You Want to Resolve

Once you have your documentation in order, it is important to make a list of issues, problems and concerns to discuss. Be specific about your concerns, including any issues you might have with your children.

Create a list based upon the importance of the issue or your priorities. For example, any concerns about your current custody arrangement or about who will continue to pay the mortgage need to be at the top of the list.

Mediate Iowa also recommends discussing these issues during mediation:

  • Discuss your children's schedule, including who will keep the kids during vacations and on the weekends. It is important to also discuss how flexible you are both willing to be with the schedule.
  • Talk about your children's education. For example, will you both be attending parent-teacher conferences and school activities?
  • Discuss which parent will be in charge of paying for the medical and dental insurance.

There will be a number of things you will want to discuss, and some will be more insignificant. However, remember that during this initial meeting, it is vital to talk about the issues that really matter to you.

Adjust Your Attitude before Going to Mediation

Finally, if your relationship has turned confrontational, you might walk into the mediation expecting a fight. However, before you enter the room ready to confront your spouse, it is vital to adjust your attitude.

Instead, remember to respect your spouse's point-of-view and if you have children, keep in mind that their best interest must be your first priority. If you find yourself becoming agitated, ask your attorney and the mediator for a break. It is okay to take a breath and reenter the mediation when you are calm.

Choosing mediation is a great option if you and your spouse want to save time and money and discuss your issues in a less litigious atmosphere. If you're considering mediation, it is important to first contact an attorney from a firm like Law office of Kristine A. Michael, P.C. who can help guide you through the process.