Divorce is one of the most stressful and emotional experiences we can have as people, and divorce litigation is tough, time-consuming and expensive. Mediation is an alternative method of dispute resolution that can be less adversarial and more efficient. In mediation, both parties work with a neutral third-party mediator to negotiate a mutually beneficial agreement.
Here are a few tips for preparing for your divorce mediation. Remember that this won’t last forever. You can look at it simply as an obstacle standing between yourself and the next chapter in your life, and think about ways to get past that obstacle in as deft and kind a way as possible. It may also be helpful to think of mediation as the best way forward so “everyone gets out alive.”
Gathering Your Evidence
Before mediation begins, gather all your relevant financial and personal documents. These include bank statements, tax returns, credit card statements, mortgage documents and other financial records. The point is to have these things ready before they’re asked for, so you can get through mediation more quickly.
You should also gather any evidence that supports your case or individual requests, like text messages, email and other communications. This can be trickier, and often harder, but if you have specific things you want out of this process it’s best to bring support and be up front.
Preparing Your Documents
In addition to gathering evidence, you should also prepare any necessary documents for the mediation process. You’ll need a simple financial statement that outlines your income, expenses, assets and debts. Organize your documentation in such a way that you will be able to produce them when they’re called for.
You should also prepare a proposal for a settlement agreement that outlines your desired outcome.
What’s the perfect outcome in your mind? What do you think the other party will say to that? What do you think they’ll want out of this process? Can you find a way to give that to them?
Working with Your Divorce Attorney
Your divorce attorney can actually be a valuable resource during mediation. They can help you prepare your case, develop your negotiation strategies and represent your interests during the mediation sessions. Your attorney can also help you understand legal implications when it comes to any proposed settlement agreements.
Benefits of Mediation over Trial
Mediation is generally less adversarial and more collaborative than litigation, which usually makes it emotionally easier. Mediation is typically faster and less expensive than litigation. Plus, mediation offers both parties more control over the outcome of the divorce settlement.
Tips for a Successful Mediation
While mediation is intended to be less adversarial, that doesn’t mean feelings won’t run high. Something is going away and you don’t know yet what will replace it, which is a scary place to be. Here are some tips for dealing with that stress for a successful mediation:
Be Prepared for Mediation
Gather all your relevant documents and evidence, and prepare a proposal for a settlement agreement before you enter mediation. You don’t have to memorize everything, but you do want to be able to answer questions and clarify things quickly. It’ll save time and keep focus on the subject at hand.
Keep an Open Mind
Be willing to compromise and always consider alternative solutions. This can be hard when the subject lies so close to our own heart, but remember that everyone there is looking for a workable answer. The mediator and your spouse want a resolution as much as you do.
Listen to the other party’s concerns and proposals. This can be much, much harder than we expect, so be prepared for the possibility of your own desire to push back. Remember that you cannot choose other people’s feelings or actions for them.
If your other party is having trouble staying stable during this process, remember you can always stay centered and calm while you listen to whatever they have to say.
It can be helpful to take notes, not for a “gotcha” but as a way to divert your attention to the words and not the way they are said. Your heart may be getting in the way of agreeing to something reasonable, just because of the way it feels in the moment.
Keep Cool… And Patient
Emotions can run high during divorce mediation, but it’s important to remain calm and respectful toward everyone, including the other party and the mediator, even if you don’t agree with their position. Stay hydrated, remember to breathe and don’t be ashamed to ask for breaks if you need them.
The mediation process can take time, but it’s important to be patient and persistent. If the mediation doesn’t work out, because one or both parties are proving intractable, the next step in divorce is going to court. And the truth is that litigation is even more intense, stressful and anxious than mediation itself.
A divorce is always a tragedy. Both parties will be dealing with grief as we let go of the life we’re leaving behind. You’re doing the best thing for you, for your future and any other people affected by the split. Try to remember that even when things get tough.
Fort Worth Divorce Attorneys
Divorce mediation is typically a less adversarial and more efficient alternative to traditional litigation. The important steps in preparing for mediation are gathering your evidence, preparing documents ahead of time, and working with a skilled attorney, like the family lawyers at Nilsson Group, to develop a negotiation strategy.
We understand the legalities of divorce decrees from the inside out and can help you determine just how to approach this major life change. Our first consultation is always free. Schedule a case review today with Fort Worth’s most trusted divorce lawyers.