Divorce is usually a tough process, especially if you and your spouse are unable to reach an agreement on basic issues such as property split, financial support, or parental responsibility for your children.
Fortunately, if both spouses are on the same page on most of the major problems, mediation may be less costly than a long and expensive legal battle.
Divorce Mediation Checklist: In this article we feature in detail 31 points on Mediation – from choosing a Divorce Mediator who is also a Practising Divorce Attorney, to Meeting All Your Settlement Agreement Responsibilities on Time.
Divorce Mediation Checklist
If you decide to try mediation, you’ll want to make sure that you’re well prepared for the process.
With everything in order before your session, you’ll be more confident and save time (and money) by not hunting for information that the mediator needs during your sessions.
You’ll also improve your chances of receiving a favorable decision.
1. Pick a Divorce Mediator Who is also a Practising Divorce Attorney
Involved in a divorce are several legal and financial difficulties.
You therefore require the assistance of someone who can assist you in identifying and dealing with them effectively.
Surprisingly, several jurisdictions permit virtually anybody to serve as a divorce mediator.
Check to see if the mediator is also a licensed divorce attorney before proceeding.
2. Select a Divorce Mediator in Your Area
It is owing to local norms or “rule of thumb” that each local jurisdiction applies its divorce laws – differently than the others.
A mediator who comes from a different county or state will not be familiar with the way cases are settled in your area. Not only that, but the commuting is also difficult.
Select a divorce mediator who has a physical office within your community.
3. Determine How Much Your Divorce Mediator’s Services Will Cost You
Some divorce mediators, like attorneys, bill on an hourly basis for their services. A flat cost is quoted by others.
We believe that the flat-fee option is the most advantageous.
You’ll know exactly how much your divorce mediation will cost up front in this manner.
4. Determine Whether Your Divorce Mediator Will Also Be Handling the Legal Aspects of Your Divorce
You might be surprised to learn that your real divorce may not be involved in the mediation process.
Why is this important?
The majority of mediators do not handle divorce cases. This is because many of them are not even attorneys.
You’ll need to engage an attorney or follow do-it-yourself instructions to complete your divorce.
5. Don’t Pay for Divorce Mediation Services That Aren’t Essential
Financial planning and psychiatric therapy are routinely included as part of the “mediation services” provided by mediators, even though most couples do not require these additional services.
Examine your bill to ensure that you are not getting charged for services that you do not want.
6. Determine How You Will Pay for the Divorce Mediation Services
Divorce is an unanticipated and expensive expenditure. Professional mediation costs between $4000 – $7000, and the expense is often shared by the parties involved in the mediation.
If you don’t have easy access to that type of money, you can try putting it on a credit card, obtaining an advance from a retirement account, or talking with the mediator about other possibilities for financing your case.
7. Come to Divorce Mediation with an Open Mind and a Positive Attitude
The entire purpose of mediation is to reach a mutually agreeable solution to your divorce.
In the end, neither party will receive what they desire – there are no winners. You’ll almost certainly have to make some unpleasant sacrifices while still being open to innovative ideas.
Put aside any preconceived beliefs about what is “fair” or how your case should be settled before you begin.
8. Recognize that You and Your Spouse May Be at Different Psychological Places at the Same Time
The process of accepting the end of a marriage is comparable to that of grieving the loss of a loved one.
Typically, one partner has been contemplating divorce for a significantly longer period than the other. That indicates that the individual who has been contemplating divorce for a longer period is likely to be in a different frame of mind than their spouse.
That is one of the reasons why talks may be so tough at times. Keeping this in mind will allow you to take your spouse’s remarks and demands less personally.
9. Determine What You and Your Spouse Can Agree on Before Proceeding
Most couples can come to terms on important issues before going through mediation, such as who will keep the house and what the custody arrangement would look like.
The more you can agree on ahead of time, the easier and less expensive your mediation will be in the long run.
10. Keep Your Emotions to Yourself
Divorce is an emotionally charged process. You will almost certainly feel angry, resentful, helpless, and depressed at some points of the process. However, expressing those feelings during mediation is counterproductive.
Divorce mediation should be approached as if it were a commercial discussion, rather than trying to correct perceived wrongs.
It is more important to sort out your financial and custody concerns, instead of looking behind, look ahead to your future.
11. Make a Detailed List of All of Your Assets and Liabilities
What it means: Divorce mediation is primarily concerned with the division of your marital assets and debts.
To begin mediation, make detailed lists of all matter that concern you. This will be a good start to the proceedings.
12. Make a Master List of All of Your Financial Information
Once you’ve compiled a thorough inventory of your assets and liabilities, you’ll need to determine their respective valuations.
If you gather your financial statements before you begin mediation, the procedure will be less stressful and more efficient.
13. Determine the Value of Your Home and Decide Whether You Want to Keep It
What it means and why it matters: The marital house is typically a substantial non-liquid asset that must be divided in the event of a divorce.
To figure out how it fits into your settlement, you’ll need to know how much it’s worth, whether or not you want to keep it, and whether or not you can afford to keep it. To begin, obtain market research or an assessment of the property.
14. Consider What Type of Custody Arrangement Would Be Most Beneficial for Your Children
The majority of people make the mistake of attempting to “win” their divorce, which results in their children being harmed.
It’s important to remember that your future happiness and success will be heavily influenced by how you treat your children and your ex-spouse both during and after your divorce proceedings.
Prioritize the needs of your children above everything else, even if this involves accepting a custody arrangement that is less than ideal for you personally.
15. Think of How You and Your Children Will Be Covered Under a Health Insurance Policy
After your divorce, you’ll be required to obtain health insurance. While children may continue to be covered by either parent’s insurance policy after a divorce, if you have insurance via your husband, you’ll need a new policy to replace it.
With your divorce, you will no longer be able to participate in your spouse’s financial plan.
If this is the case for you, you should begin investigating your health insurance choices immediately.
16. If You Have Been Married for Almost Ten Years, Try Delaying Your Divorce Until After Your Tenth Wedding Anniversary
After more than ten years of marriage, you may be able to claim benefits under your social security earnings record, if one-half of your benefit is larger than your complete benefit when you reach retirement age.
This is especially crucial for stay-at-home parents and couples – with a significant income discrepancy – regarding the ability to save money on childcare.
The Social Security payout does not affect your spouse’s Social Security income when they retire.
17. Consider Who Will Stay in the House and Pay the Expenses Throughout Your Divorce
Living together while going through a divorce is difficult.
One person is responsible for taking care of the house, paying the bills, keeping it clean, and so forth.
It’s difficult to come to terms on these issues when you’re not getting along with your partner.
Address these concerns as soon as possible during your divorce mediation session.
Find out more about How to Address Your Living Situation in Divorce if you and your spouse live in the same house.
18. If You are Selling Your Home, Choose Real Estate Agent Carefully
Selling your home after a divorce may be tough, especially if you and your spouse are not on speaking terms with one another.
There are several issues to consider, such as how to price the home, what repairs should be completed, who will maintain the house clean for showings, and so on.
A competent realtor may assist you in avoiding the appearance that your home is being sold as a result of a divorce by staging it, taking professional pictures, and providing other assistance. They’ll also assist you in setting an appropriate fee.
You don’t want anyone to have the impression that you’re selling your house at a discount because you’re getting divorced.
19. Avoid Taking Actions That May Cause Your Spouse to Have a Difficult Time in the Future
In mediation, you will be bargaining with your spouse to resolve challenging topics.
Throughout the process, you want to maintain as much civility as possible in your relationship. Taking her automobile “because your name is on the title” or selling his belongings at a garage sale, are not the best ideas at this time.
Maintain the status quo as much as possible until the issues in your divorce are settled.
20. Make an Appointment for Your First Divorce Mediation Session Immediately
If you’re planning to get divorced, you should begin the process of mediation as soon as you can.
The use of mediation can assist you in starting your divorce on the right foot, by recognizing and addressing issues before they become a source of contention.
21. In the Case of Divorce Mediation, Ask for More Than You Want
Even if you think you know how your issue should be resolved, it’s still a good idea to ask for more than you think you’ll get during talks. This may seem ridiculous, but your partner is not going to be satisfied with your initial offer.
Be prepared to bargain when the situation calls for it. By asking for more, you allow yourself greater leeway to make concessions.
22. Don’t Expect to Get an Advantage in a Divorce Mediation Session
Some spouses are asking questions such as “Will it be a 50-50 payout?” and “Will it be a 50-50 settlement?” or “If I go through mediation, I won’t have to pay alimony?”
These questions are usually raised by the spouse who earns more than the other. They are already aware of what would happen if they went to court, and they are attempting to obtain a better outcome through mediation.
Sorry, but you won’t be able to deceive your spouse into accepting a less-than-favorable settlement during mediation.
23. Consult Your Divorce Mediator About “Fairness” in Your Jurisdiction
The majority of couples desire to come to a fair agreement through mediation.
The right divorce mediator (as described above) will be able to provide you with an indication of what would be deemed a fair outcome in your particular jurisdiction.
24. Request Memorandums of Understandings
Keeping track of the agreements struck throughout your mediation sessions is essential for success.
A memorandum detailing any agreements achieved during the mediation session, as well as a list of subjects to be discussed at the next session, should be sent to you by your mediator following each session.
Please double-check the information and save it as a reference for your future session.
25. Look for Grounds of Agreement and Win-Win Situations
To overcome problems, a qualified mediator will assist you in coming up with innovative alternatives. The finest options are those that are beneficial to both you and your spouse at the same time.
Think beyond the box and seek for alternatives that benefit both parties. In the case of a house, may you offer to pay for your spouse’s relocation fees and a deposit on an apartment if you desire it more than they do?
26. Keep in Mind that You May Have to Make Painful Decisions
In the end, no one gets what they desire out of a divorce. The most important thing is to come out of it as unharmed as possible and with a strategy for the future.
Preparation is essential if you want to avoid situations in which paying alimony or moving some of your retirement money to your spouse might be a burden on you.
27. Focus on the Future
People have the misconception that divorce is about obtaining restitution for events that occurred during their marriage, such as an affair, excessive spending, or laziness. Contrary to what you may have seen on television, divorce is not about separating from one’s spouse.
It is important to remember that divorce is about splitting your assets and obligations in a way that allows both of you to go on with your lives.
As a result, you should concentrate on your financial and personal objectives for the future. Forget about the things that happened in the past.
28. Consider the Financial and Emotional Costs of Divorce Litigation
You’ve made a wise decision in deciding to employ divorce mediation to help you settle your divorce case. You’ll have to make some financial sacrifices if you want to be successful.
Keep in mind that divorce litigation often costs $25,000 – $50,000 and takes three years to complete. This makes it easier to complete.
29. Ask Your Divorce Mediator Questions and Let Them Lead You
Forget about what you’ve heard from your friends and relatives about what they consider to be “fair” in their divorces or what they received in their separations. Almost certainly, it is incorrect or has little to do with the specifics of your situation.
If you choose the appropriate divorce mediator — someone who is also a professional divorce attorney — they will be able to help you toward a fair and reasonable resolution to your marriage dissolution.
30. You Should Consider Getting an Independent Legal Advice
Although mediation is beneficial, it is occasionally wise to seek a second viewpoint.
If you have any questions or reservations regarding your divorce settlement (such as whether it is fair, or if you should agree to something), you may arrange a consultation with an impartial attorney for around $250, which is a reasonable investment.
That is money that can be put to good use.
31. Meet All Your Settlement Agreement Responsibilities on Time
Complete your action items as quickly as possible so that you may move on to the next step.
Failure to meet deadlines can result in a variety of issues.
Investment accounts may see a decline in value, and you or your spouse may lose your employment.
Events such as these can make it impossible to discharge your duties, and you may be subjected to contempt actions as a result.
Complete the tasks on your to-do list as soon as possible.
We hope that this Divorce Mediation Checklist will assist you with the Mediation Process!