The first divorce mediation session can be nerve-wracking due to uncertainty about what to expect and how the other party will behave. Being prepared with a detailed plan will ensure a smooth transition through the mediation process to life after divorce.
A recent online survey of divorcing couples by divorce preparation website completecase.com shows that Vermont tops the list for easy, amicable divorces in the United States. Divorce in California was found to be pleasantly cordial, where couples part ways with minimal hostility.
Communication and cooperation are essential for an amicable divorce. A skilled mediator can get the divorcing parties in the right mindset to arrive at a friendly resolution. Divorce is never easy, but the more prepared you are, the more productive your mediation will be.
Getting organized before mediation can help spare time, money and stress. Important items to bring to the first session are a list of assets, properties, bank account balances, retirement funds and other financial documents. Information about debts and loans, as well as records about income sources should also feature in the list. Drafting a budget is also a key step as it will shed light on your current financial picture and what finances will look like post-divorce. The budget should be realistic and based on concrete expenses. It should incorporate expenses such as mortgage payments, car payments, child care costs and health insurance. Bring the list with you to mediation.
Come to a mediation session prepared to negotiate rather than argue. Arguing can be counterproductive to the forward-looking process of mediation. The key to an effective mediation session is both spouses figuring out their range of acceptable terms and priorities. After establishing your specific concerns either verbally or through writing, you can work with the mediator to accomplish your goals. Consider decisions regarding the future needs and care of your children, such as child custody and co-parenting.
Although divorce can be a stressful process, keeping emotions under control will be beneficial to mediation. Remember to stay flexible during the mediation process. You may be surprised by how often what you thought you wanted early on changes over time.
Gerald A. Maggio is a trained Orange County divorce mediator who has amicably resolved cases many cases out of court, as well as an experienced divorce and family law attorney. Mr. Maggio founded California Divorce Mediators in 2012 with the belief that although “not every marriage can be saved, every family can” and a mission to save families from the financial and emotional distress associated with traditional divorce litigation. California Divorce Mediators is located in Irvine, California, and serves the Orange County area and other counties in California offering divorce mediation, child custody mediation and mediation of other family law matters.