Most people facing any day in front of a Judge in Court would avoid it if they could. When going through divorce, that urge is just as strong. So, a preliminary step you may want to consider taking is Mediation. The out-of-court Mediation process can help you and your partner reach a mutually beneficial divorce agreement.
Once the decision to divorce has been made, in addition to the whole court avoidance desire, the next step is to figure how to split up your assets and debts, and establish spousal support, child support, and parenting schedules. A Mediator is an impartial third party that can guide you through and facilitate all those difficult and necessary conversations.
Unraveling your marital ties is a very emotional thing, in addition to the trust issues and hurt often being felt. During any stressful time, many people find it hard to stay rational, and a Mediator can help you both reach a point where you can mutually agree on important decisions.
A Mediator can’t give specific legal advice, but they can teach you how to communicate more efficiently. Where you both desire to reach an amicable agreement, Mediation could be conducted in the same room, or it can be done virtually or by phone as needed, which can save on travel time and being away from work for extended periods.
Mediator, Take The Wheel?
If you do choose Mediation as an alternative, you still need to be prepared. Neither divorce in Court nor by Mediation is a place to fly by the seat of your pants. If you go in unprepared, you may not be able to have educated and confident conversations related to the ultimate settlement 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 any decisions for you. So, think in advance about what you want your life to look like when this process is done, and focus on what you need to get there.
Meeting With Your Divorce Mediator
When you go to your first meeting, bring a list of all of your jointly owned assets and debts, a valuation of your home, loan documents, a copy of a
prenuptial or postnuptial agreement if you have one, copies of recent income tax returns, and retirement and bank account statements. Take a notebook and pen, and ask any questions you may have. This is where involving a divorce financial expert such a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® (CDFA®) early in the process, can help you be best prepared for this initial meeting. CDFA’s can help you identify, clarify, and organize all your financial information.
Write down everything you want to remember, ask about fees, and how they will communicate with you and your spouse. This is an opportunity for your Mediator to assess your situation, get a feel for the chemistry between the two of you, and for you to get to know them and see if/how you “connect.”
Mediation should feel like an informal atmosphere where the Mediator strives to create a relaxed situation so that both partners can remain calm. There’s no set frequency or length of time for sessions, because every divorce is unique. Some couples find they may only need a few sessions, while others may need more.
Mediation typically saves money on Attorney fees relative to traditional litigation and is a great way to prepare for your divorce. Ultimately, being able to avoid Court will make for much better outcomes for your entire family, since you remain in control of all those decisions.
Contact my office at (850) 252-6325 to learn more about all your divorce options, and how I can help you be better prepared to move through whichever option you choose.