Divorce mediation is a productive, useful way for couples to make decisions about the legal aspects of their divorce. It gives you the chance to hash things out with your partner before finalizing your thoughts in a legal agreement.
However, it’s essential to ask for your needs and wants during mediation in order for it to be effective. Here are some of the most important topics to bring up during divorce mediation.
Is This Mediator Right For Us?
When you first meet with your mediator, he or she will likely have a lot of questions for you about your finances, any children you have, and other information.
You can ask the mediator questions of your own, too. If you aren’t sure about mediation, you can ask for details about the process. You may also want to get answers about the mediator’s qualifications, such as their specialties or how long they have been working as a mediator.
It’s also important to be clear on the exact services the mediator will provide. Some mediators will draft the final settlement, but only attorneys can do this. Otherwise, they will write a memorandum of understanding, which a lawyer can use to write the final agreement.
Some mediators will complete the divorce paperwork and file it for you, but not all of them will. Ask ahead of time so you know what to expect going in.
What Issues Do We Want to Focus On?
To get the most out of your divorce mediation sessions, you and your spouse should each come up with a list of topics you want to discuss. Focus is important and will help you make real progress with the help of your mediation.
For example, the division of property and real estate may be a concern you both share. If you bring this issue to your mediator, he or she can help you figure out the best way to approach it.
This is also a good way to stay focused during mediation sessions. The list of important issues can serve as a guideline for your mediation.
Things will move faster if you and your spouse can stay on one topic and reach an agreement instead of getting distracted.
What Are Your Goals?
Divorce mediation is done with specific goals in mind, whether it’s how to divide up your property and debt or how to split the cost of college tuition for a child. Your mediator will likely ask about your goals for the process during your first meeting.
Aside from what you want out of the mediation, you should also have personal goals. Do you want to keep the marital home? You may want to plan out a budget that will allow you to do so. Are you hoping for continued health insurance coverage on your spouse’s plan?
Your goals should include both basic needs and wants. You, your spouse, and the mediator will all work together to assess each person’s goals and aim to meet as many as possible. Not all of them will be met, but mediation should strive to meet both parties’ basic needs.
Whatever you want from the divorce, it’s important to mention it during sessions and make a case for yourself.
How Do You Determine Child Custody?
Child custody and visitation rights are often one of the most contentious parts of a divorce. Taking the path of mediation instead of going to court can actually benefit both the child and parents because the process is less formal and stressful.
Custody refers to physical and legal custody. Legal custody determines who has the legal right to make or share decisions about a child’s life—from education to medical treatments.
Physical custody, on the other hand, determines where a child will live. Physical custody is determined by a whole range of factors, like proximity to the child’s school or even the child’s preference, if he or she is old enough. Parents will often share physical custody unless one is deemed unfit by the court.
In a mediation situation, it’s up to the parents to come to a consensus on the best way to split up legal and physical custody. The goal is to find a living situation and legal custody situation that will best fit the child and give him or her access to support from both parents.
How Will You Settle Alimony and Other Financial Support?
Another common point of contention is the financial support spouses have to provide to each other.
This is a hard issue to settle, but a mediator will be able to help you stay on track and answer questions honestly. If one spouse truly needs alimony, health insurance, or a portion of a 401 (k) Plan to meet their basic needs, the two of you should be able to reach an agreement on the issue.
You can also negotiate here, perhaps you aren’t willing to share your 401 (k) Plan but are amenable to providing alimony and keeping a spouse on your health insurance. There’s room for discussion here, but ultimately you will need to find a solution that you can both live with.
How Will You Divide Property and Debts?
When you first meet, your mediator will usually request financial documents and a list of property from each spouse. Mediation for property division can be intimidating, but it can save a lot of time and energy. Negotiation is key here.
Each person should have clear priorities in terms of what they want. Mediation often involves discussion and negotiation to try and meet as many of each person’s needs as possible. Each person will likely need to compromise in order to have their priorities met.
For example, the person who intends to have primary physical custody of any children may want to keep the marital home. One spouse may intend to keep family property that they owned prior to the marriage.
In court, property division is settled according to inflexible laws, and things may not work out the way you want them to.
Find the Right Divorce Mediation for Your Needs
Mediation is an alternative to litigation that can save you time and money, as well as protecting your privacy. Asking a few questions will set you up for an effective, speedy experience.
For affordable divorce mediation Anaheim, contact our team at Divorce Mediation of California today.