A divorce mediator is a trained and experienced neutral facilitator who helps you and your spouse resolve all the issues involved in your divorce by mutual agreement. The mediator does not decide anything – you and your spouse, with the guidance of your lawyers, make all the decisions. One of the best aspects of a mediated resolution is that you, not a judge, remain in control of your life and the lives of your children. This produces agreement that are much more resilient in the future.
All your decisions in mediation will be based on facts. If you provide accurate facts for yourself and for the mediator, you will get accurate results. By analogy, asking the mediator to help solve the dispute without accurate income, expense and other financial data is like asking a doctor for a medical diagnosis without blood tests, clinical reports or X-rays. You will save substantial time and money by having accurate information about the following:
Income (W-2 statements and income tax returns for the past five years)
Expenses (detailed monthly budgets for the last year of the marriage and projected budgets for your post-divorce lifestyle)
Assets (listed in the detail required on the court approved Statement of Net Worth)
Liabilities (listed in detail required on the court approved Statement of Net Worth)
Once you have documented the financial facts, you are ready to prioritize your concerns. Itemize all concerns, with the most critical concerns at the top of your list. Bring the list to mediation (you will not have to reveal the list). In order to fully prepare to make reasonable compromises, ask yourself the following questions (as applicable): Where will I live? Where will our children live? How can we pay for college cost? What kind of retirement are you hoping to achieve? Who will you be in your post-divorce life? How do you want your children to see you after the divorce is over? How can you minimize conflict between you and your spouse and thereby spare your children the agony of having to even think about choosing between two parents whom they love? What will trial cost you financially? What will an appeal cost? What will litigation cost emotionally?
The answers to these questions place compromise in perspective.
Lastly, a clear and pragmatic vision of your future will enhance your ability to achieve it.