How Do I Prepare for Mediation?

You’ve made the decision to mediate. Congratulations! By deciding to mediate your separation, divorce, family or any other issue, you are likely to be saving yourself emotional stress, time and money. So how can you maximize the benefits of mediation?
 

  1. Set aside enough time for your mediation sessions. I typically set aside two hours for each mediation session. We may not use the whole two hours but if we are on a roll, making progress and having good discussions, I don’t want anyone to feel rushed and interrupt your progress. I know it can be difficult to set aside two hours and that’s okay, give us an hour and we can use that time efficiently, especially if we have all of the necessary documents on hand before we begin.
  2. Be open minded.
    You, your spouse and your family are unique. There is not one solution that fits all situations. You may seek the advice of family and friends and ask (or likely they will offer without being asked) what they did for their divorce. But keep in mind that your situation is different than theirs. Maybe you have chosen a different path with mediation and they were stuck in litigation. Maybe they have children and you do not. Maybe what was important to them isn’t important to you. Maybe you have a different relationship with your spouse than they had with theirs. All of these differences effect how you approach your mediation, the options you may have or that you create for yourself and your family.

    You may come into mediation with a preconceived notion of what you should “get” or what you are or aren’t willing to “give up” and that it totally understandable. Some people do not have any idea what to expect and need information on how all of this works and that’s where I come in. I provide suggestions, ideas and creative solutions that make sense for you and your family. So you may come in expecting a bushel of apples but find yourself happy with a mixed basket of fruit instead. The more open minded you are, the more fruitful our discussion can be.

  3. Be prepared with any documents needed for each session. I will provide you with a list of documents that will be helpful to have for our mediations-preferably before we meet or early on in the process. Usually this will include things like: current paystubs, last two year taxes, recent retirement account statements, values on vehicles, current mortgages on real property, cash value on life insurance and things of that nature. Also, I will ask that you complete the financial disclosure form either before the mediation starts or early in the process. Don’t panic. It looks more complicated than it actually is. If you’re not comfortable completing that document I have a financial professional that I work with that can help you with it. Below are PDF and Word format of the Financial Affidavit commonly used in separation or divorce mediations.
  4. Be respectful of each other, me and the process.
    Yes, it is expected that you may be feeling anxious, stressed, emotional and maybe angry. If you need a few minutes to express that, each of will have that opportunity if you need it. It is important though that you treat each other and me respectfully. To me that means that you are not berating each other, you are refraining from name calling, you aren’t yelling over the other person or me. Things sometimes do get heated but I will keep the mediation under control. If we need to take a five minute break – that’s okay-we can pause, take some deep breaths and continue when everyone is ready. Words are important. Listen to each other without interrupting or using unkind words, it will go far in the discussions and negotiations.
  5. Be patient.
    Although mediation is typically a much faster process than litigation, it is still a process that may take several weeks or months in some cases. It is important to be thorough and take your time to understand all of the financial and parenting decisions you are making. Often one partner is ready to move forward and the other needs a bit more time to get into the same emotional space of separating/divorcing. Or sometimes work schedules are making it difficult to meet for mediation. Or maybe we need wait a few weeks for an appraisal to be completed or a retirement statement to be received. Even if all of these things are happening simultaneously, you are still using a divorce resolution method that puts the decisions in your hands and not the Court. If that’s what you want, then it’s likely worth the wait.

    I understand that by the time you have reached out to me you have given this careful consideration and you are anxious to get through the mediation process. I want to move both of you through it at a pace that you both find comfortable; a pace that allows you the time to gather the necessary information, have clear and productive discussions and understand how these solutions make the most sense for you and your family. That takes a minute-so let’s be patient with each other.

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