Five Ways to Prepare for Your Divorce Mediation
If you have decided to dissolve your marriage, a mediated divorce settlement can save you time, money and heartache. But mediation can only succeed if the parties are invested in the process and want it to succeed. In mediation, as with so many other endeavors in life, preparation is the key. Here are five steps we recommend our clients take to prepare for their divorce mediation:
- Speak to an attorney — You need to know what you’re getting into. Consult a divorce attorney with experience in mediation to learn more about the process and whether you and your spouse are good candidates. Mediation is not for everyone; couples with a history of domestic abuse rarely have success in mediation. If emotions are still raw because of a recent betrayal, it may not be possible to work cooperatively toward a settlement. If there’s been dishonesty with finances, there may not be enough trust for mediation to work.
- Speak to your spouse — A successful mediation requires that both parties commit to the process. If your relationship with your spouse has deteriorated to the point where you cannot even discuss how to dissolve your marriage, you are probably not candidates for mediation. But if you’re in agreement about getting a divorce and you can discuss your property and parenting issues calmly, mediation may work.
- Organize your thoughts — You don’t need to have every line item of your financial disclosure memorized, but you do need to have a clear grasp of the big picture as you move forward. “Forward” is the operative word. Mediation is not about dredging up past wrongs, even from the recent past. It’s about planning for the future. Reflect on each aspect of your life — children, property, career, finances — and think about what you’d like to happen now and in the future.
- Set realistic goals — In divorce, no one gets everything they want. So, don’t focus exclusively on the best-case scenario; you also have to consider your breaking point. What is the least favorable outcome you are willing to accept to get a negotiated solution? When you know exactly what you want and what you’re willing to take, you can usually get a result that’s comfortably in the middle.
- Put your children first — There’s no sugarcoating the fact that divorce is difficult on children. However, a mediated divorce that keeps you and your children out of court is much less disruptive. As a parent, you probably hate the idea of losing time with your children to anyone, even their other parent. But you’ve got to look at any proposed parenting plan through their eyes, not your own. In most cases, the court will require a co-parenting arrangement that serves the best interests of the children. When you accept that reality, you can work more easily toward a resolution.
Mediation is much less stressful than a contested divorce, but you may still have to take a few deep breaths and do some serious preparation. However, with the support of an experienced and knowledgeable divorce mediator, you can certainly get through it.
If you are planning to file for divorce, Solutions Divorce Mediation, Inc. can help you and your spouse reach a cost-effective marital settlement agreement. Call us at 1.631.683.8172 or contact our Long Island office online.