Divorces are stressful. The pressure of one can cause all sorts of emotional and physical issues for those involved. The realization that a marriage is over hits everyone differently and everyone reacts to it in their own way. Anger and disappointment are common feelings that may arise during divorce negotiations. Besides seeking the support of family, friends, and professionals to deal with it, many couples are now opting for divorce mediation to resolve their divorce issues. If you too choose mediation, consider taking these steps before starting mediation to get the most out of the process:
Meet a mediation legal coach
Mediation is an opportunity for you and your ex-partner to create an outcome that is guided by but not bound by state law. You can decide what is best for you and your family by designing a customized agreement that is tailored to your lives and the situation you are in. A mediator is a third party that doesn’t represent either of you but works to shape a solution that meets both your joint and individual needs. It is important to get someone knowledgeable to help you in such a circumstance. A legal coach isn’t someone who holds any personal stake in the matter, but someone who knows the game and can help you achieve the best results.
Choose your mediator wisely
Always remember that word of mouth is the best source for referrals when it comes to selecting a mediator. There are those who specialize in different areas and use different tactics that you may or may not agree with. You need to choose someone who is a good fit for you. After reviewing the relevant laws that apply to your case, you might decide that a mediator who relies exclusively on the law to guide parties toward a resolution might not be the best fit. For example, if you were the bread earner in the family or you and your spouse had a financial arrangement that was different than what the law prescribes but was never put to writing in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, you might want to choose a mediator who spends less time looking at what the law states and more time working toward a solution that works best for the current situation. Maybe instead of following the legal calculation to determine support, the supported party will agree to less support for a longer period of time or the parties might even agree to live together for a short time post-divorce, while both of them save up some money.
Ask these questions to your mediator while interviewing him
What is your style of mediation? Will you meet my spouse and me in the same room or separately? Do you also hold sessions by phone or Skype? What is your availability? How far out are you scheduling meetings? Will you be preparing, filing, and processing our divorce paperwork for us or will we have to do that on our own? Do you take a retainer up front and bill against that or do you charge a flat fee? If so, how much is the fee? What is your hourly rate? These questions will help you figure out whether or not the mediator is a good fit for you.
Have an open mind and listen carefully
During a divorce mediation, there are some things that you have to expect before you even step through the door. Always expect that your ex will say things (whether intentionally or not) that are counterproductive, hurtful, or untrue. Know that your mediator will be able to see through unreasonable requests. Don’t panic and blurt out something that could harm your case. Instead, take a deep breath when communications get heated. Stay calm and refrain from interrupting or attacking your soon-to-be-ex-spouse.
Don’t ignore your mental health
Not many of us have ever had to negotiate a complex financial contract or fight for what we think is best for our kids while ending one of the most important relationships in our lives. That is exactly what divorce mediation is. The process requires a steep learning curve, and it may be even more if you have complicated financial issues. It isn’t unreasonable for all sorts of emotions like anger, disappointment, fear, relief, and sorrow to crop up. Such emotions can be exhausting. Don’t forget to take a break and look after yourself during this time.
Gather the information you need ahead of time
Assuming that you have access to your financial documents, you should start gathering them before the process starts. If it’s your spouse who has them, do not hesitate to ask for the documents. If your spouse is keen on mediation, he or she is probably not interested in hiding documents or extending the process. You can’t go into mediation unless you have a good knowledge of what you have and when it was acquired. For example, if you purchased a home together but your mother provided the down payment, you’ll likely want that money back. The best way to ask for the money is to “prove” that that was in fact what happened by providing some sort of documentation or financial statement. It’s not uncommon for people to forget things when it comes to facts that could affect them financially. If you and your ex are on the same page, you can use Google drive folder or Dropbox to compile the necessary documents together to make things easier.
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