november2015For most couples, divorce can be emotional and arduous.  Divorcing couples may benefit from mediation as a means to ensure your voices are heard prior to litigation.  Mediating your divorce matter can assist with narrowing the issues and may even result in a resolution of your divorce matter.

Before you attend your mediation session, it is important to be prepared for the decisions you will have to make. By speaking with an experienced family law attorney and taking the time to think about what you really want, you can ensure that mediation will smoothly resolve most of the issues in your divorce.

Step 1: Compile Documentation

When a couple divorces, they are required to split their property in a way that is equitable and fair. In order to accurately divide property, it is imperative that each former partner understands what the couple owns, and what the couple owes.

Each partner should compile a list of their assets. These documents can include bank statements, investment account statements, retirement and pension plan information, a list of all personal assets owned like vehicles, furniture, antiques or other valuables, as well as appraisals of the market value of any businesses or real property that the couple owns.

In addition to listing assets, the couple also needs to have an accounting of the debt they owe. These debts may be in the form of a mortgage, a lease, a loan, credit card debt, joint tax liability, or any other open accounts where money is due and owing.

Finally, the couple will also need to document the income of each partner. This can be done with tax returns or paycheck stubs. If one spouse pays for insurance for the other or for children, this information should be collected as well.

Step 2: Consider What You Want

Once you have compiled the information needed to attend mediation, it is important to think about what is most important to you. While property must be split in a way that is fair, it does not have to be split equally.  If one partner wants a valuable item, he or she may be able to accept fewer items of lesser value in exchange.

For example, if the wife in a marriage will be keeping the house, she may have to provide her husband with additional property, furniture, vehicles or other items of value in order to make the exchange fair. While the division of property does not have to be even, it does have to be reasonable.

In addition to considering how property will be divided, couples with children should think about their desires for custody. Custody arrangements can be made in a way that fits the couple’s needs, and each partner should take the time to consider their work schedules, living arrangements, and other obligations before deciding on the best way to split parenting time. By contemplating your needs and wants prior to mediation, the process will go faster and more smoothly.

Step 3: Keep An Open Mind

Though thinking about what you want is a necessary part of the mediation process, so is keeping an open mind about the desires and wants of your former partner. While it may be tempting to refuse your ex-spouse’s requests on principle, remember that any issues which are not resolved in mediation will be decided by a judge.

Though the judge will be fair when deciding your case, most people are more satisfied with the results of their divorce when they have control over the process. A judge does not have the time or resources to thoroughly understand every person’s attachment to every piece of property; as a result, issues which you consider important may get only a passing glance.

In general, it is better to decide as many issues as possible in mediation rather than in court. In order to facilitate this, both partners need to be willing to work with each other in order to come to a resolution.

Step 4: Speak With Your Attorney

After you have made a list of your assets and debts, and thought hard about how you want your divorce to go, you should speak with your attorney prior to any mediation. In some cases, your attorney will attend mediation with you. In other cases, you may need to attend mediation on your own.

An attorney can help you translate your wishes into a solid plan for mediation. You and your attorney can determine how you want child custody arranged, or put in motion plans for splitting up valuable assets. Without an attorney helping you to prepare for mediation, you may be blindsided by unexpected request from your former spouse.

At The Castro Firm, Inc., our dependable and committed divorce lawyers understand the intricacies of mediation, and will make sure that you are prepared for meeting with the mediator. Our attorneys will be with you through every step of your divorce, and can help your family move on with your lives.

If you would like more information about mediation, child support, divorce agreements, or any other family law issue, visit The Castro Firm, Inc. online at www.thecastrofirm.com. For a free consultation about your rights and obligations after a divorce, call us today at (302) 225-5700.