5 Ways to Prepare for Divorce Mediation
You’ll make decisions in divorce mediation that may affect you and your children for years to come. It’s important to be prepared so that you can make well-informed choices in a timely way, and get the results that will work for you.
1. Be Organized
Waiting for accurate paperwork is one of the most common reasons for delay in the family mediation process. Necessary paperwork includes statements for assets and liabilities that existed both on your date of marriage and your date of separation. You’ll also need documentation of mortgages, loans, car and house insurance, and medical benefits. If either party has a pension, an application for “Family Value” must be filled out by both parties, and can take up to 90 days for the corresponding “Statement of Family Law Value” to be returned. For this reason, this application should be submitted as soon as possible.
2. Find Support
Going through the family mediation process is stressful for everyone. It brings about big life changes that can be hard to accept. Having a good personal support system means you’ll have people to rely on for emotional support when things get rough. This in turn will help you to keep moving through the process, even when it gets difficult. Tell trusted friends and family about your separation, and let them know that they can support you by spending time with you, and being an ear to vent to during the process.
3. Know Your Goals
A good mediator will ask you about your goals in the mediation process. What do you really want and why? What are you willing to give up? Some clients are take aback and aren’t sure how to answer, and some never really get clear about their priorities so they spend time arguing over everything instead – even things that don’t really matter to them. If you can get clear about what is most important to you you’ll be able to discuss this with your mediator, who can help you stay focused on what you need.
4. Find a Lawyer for Legal Advice
It can take time to find a lawyer you trust, works well with you, and has availability. You’ll also likely want a lawyer who offers “unbundled services” meaning that you can book them for hourly time for legal advice rather than having to pay a large retainer fee. You can meet with a lawyer before mediation begins, and at any time throughout or at the close of the process. Many clients wait to find a lawyer until they need to consult one and then are waiting several weeks and delaying mediation. If you’ve already met the lawyer you’ll be well-poised to get that legal advice as soon as you need it.
5. Get Help from Experts
Start sourcing out professionals that you trust, who can help you make the decisions you need. Reach out to friends and family for referrals, read reviews, and having initial consultation calls so that you’ve got a little team at the ready when you need them. Real estate agents can help value your property and assist with a home sale if needed. An insurance agent can explain your current policies and explain the cost, terms, and advantages of changing them. If you want to buy-out the home or buy another one with your settlement you’ll need a mortgage agent. A financial planner is a must to help you evaluate financial decisions, determine a budget post-separation, and offer advice about tax implications of property transfers. Home stagers, appraisers, child counsellors, accountants, and actuaries might be some of the other professionals you’ll need in your roster.
The family mediation process isn’t easy, but being prepared will make it easier.