Getting married is a time of excitement and celebration but getting divorced – it’s bittersweet at best. The good news is you have options on how to achieve the best outcome for yourself and your family. One of these options is divorce mediation.
Mediation is a popular method of moving forward with a divorce, minus the conflict and high costs. If you and your soon-to-be-ex can amicably make decisions, divorce mediation may be a good fit. Here’s what you need to know about the process and everything you’ll need to get started.
Who Is a candidate for divorce mediation?
Good candidates for mediation can set aside their differences, if only just for a brief while, and work together in a civil manner. If you and your spouse can’t be in the same room without World War III breaking out, divorce mediation may not be for you. However, a skilled mediator can help keep emotions under wraps, provided that you want to work towards your common goals.
How does divorce mediation work?
Divorce mediation isn’t a Hollywood courtroom drama. It’s the opposite, allowing both parties to enter into a private process and leave with their dignity and mutual respect intact. It’s best to think of ways ahead of time to leave your emotions as much at the door as you can.
As with any divorce, you will likely want to consult with an attorney first, although this is not mandatory and some choose to save legal advice for later. In either case, make sure your attorney is a mediation-friendly review attorney who understands the mediation process and their role in it.
Once you’ve consulted with your attorney, if you decide to do so ahead of the mediation, find a neutral third-party mediator that you and your spouse both agree to and like, and who knows about divorce law. This person will work with you and your spouse to develop the terms of your divorce settlement. This includes distribution of your marital property and liabilities, child custody and support, alimony, and other concerns. You may go to mediation with your attorney, or you and your spouse may attend sessions with the mediator without attorneys present.
Once the mediation settlement is reached, your attorney will convert the settlement into a formal, legally binding Matrimonial Settlement Agreement that will be signed by you and your spouse.
Your attorney submits paperwork to the courts and arranges for an “uncontested” divorce. Note that your divorce mediator may not do this – the mediator is a neutral and therefore may not appear in court for either one of you.
Then, you only have to go to court to get your final judgment of divorce, as opposed to spending days (or even months) in the courtroom and in other mandatory processes required by the court to complete your divorce.
What do you need for a successful divorce mediation process?
You need to be prepared and collect all the necessary documentation about your married life to bring into the mediation process. If you or your spouse can’t trust one another to be transparent about your income, assets, or liabilities, then divorce mediation isn’t for you.
Like any divorce, the purpose is to make sure both parties walk away with an equitable settlement and that they and any children are provided for when the parents are separated.
Here are the items you need to bring with you to the mediation table:
- All assets, including bank accounts, retirement accounts, real property information, employment information, investment accounts, vehicle information, business ownerships, and any other assets were accumulated during the marriage, regardless of whose name it’s in
- All liabilities, including credit cards, car loans, student loans, mortgages, tax liabilities, and any other liabilities that were accumulated during your marriage, regardless of whose name it’s in
- All information relating to your children, including ages, education information, medical issues and concerns, and any other information relating to children resulting from your relationship
- A plan for some idea of what your life may look like after your separation. Will you be in a new apartment? Will the house be sold? Where will the children live? What does your budget look like for future expenses under your “new normal?”
These items, along with the ability to compromise, are necessary to ensure a successful divorce mediation process.
To learn more about divorce mediation, contact the attorneys at Keith Family Law. Our experienced attorneys will be happy to help guide you through mediation process and help you determine if it’s a viable option.