So you’ve decided to get a divorce. Making that decision was probably the hardest part, what comes next is only as difficult a process as you make it. If you are able to collaborate with your soon-to-be former spouse and can choose mediation rather than litigation then there’s a much better chance that the next few steps will be a lot easier for everyone involved and quicker than the alternative.
There are lots of reasons why mediation is better than going to family court for your divorce, but one of them is the flexibility. Your mediator can be anywhere in your state, some can even be in another state depending upon their state bar status. As a member of CalBar I can assist in mediating divorces up and down the coast of California via Zoom. Also, mediation doesn’t have to be restricted by court days and hours either, if you need to meet in the evenings or on weekends then that can be accommodated.
Consultation & Connection
When a divorcing couple calls to hire a mediator an important sign to look for is when a mediator will only do a consultation with both parties together. A mediator should always remain neutral and having an intake session with only one half of the couple is a bad sign. Though it is a professional relationship, you do want to have a connection with your mediator and feel heard.
Getting Your Paperwork in Order
Once you’ve selected your mediator and you begin your sessions things can move as slowly or quickly as you want them to. The best thing you can do is begin printing out and collecting the information you’ll need almost as soon as you decide to get a divorce.
Make a timeline of your relationship
- Date you met
- Date you got engaged
- Date you got married
- Date you separated
- Date you filed
Add any major events to the timeline
- Children’s births
- Immediate family member deaths
- Starting/Ending Jobs
Insert all major purchases to the timeline
Include any important paperwork
- Tax Statements
- Insurance Statements and any medical bills
- Marriage and Birth Certificates
- Mortgage Statements and all monthly bills
- Credit Card statements
Many clients will ask how many months or years worth of statements and tax refunds to collect and the answer depends on your timeline. If you were only married a short time then try and track down all of them. If there was a significant change in income then it’s important to show the before and after and be able to explain what occurred. That can include a job promotion, the purchase of a home, the decision to send a child to private school, or if one spouse decided to start spending a lot more money on extraneous items. Anything that is out of the norm should be documented or at least noted.
Make a List & Check it Twice
Additionally, make a list of anything that is valuable and should be included in a division of assets. While you’re making the list, try to attach a value to the item perhaps even differentiating the purchase cost and depreciation. Then denote which items were purchased prior to marriage, or were purchased with non-marital income such as an inheritance, or was received as a gift. Also, assign a number to items based on which ones you really want, kind of want, and don’t want to help in the division process. You don’t need to share your personal rankings with your spouse, but it’s good to have an idea what pieces are important to you and why. If you can determine whether it’s an emotional connection or a logical one, that will help as well. Neither is wrong but it can have an impact on negotiations.
Let’s Get Started
After intake and going over the process and procedures together, many mediators will choose to meet with each spouse separately so that everyone has a chance to feel heard in a safe space. Then mediation will reconvene with both parties and the details will begin to be hashed out in a productive and respectful manner. These are the reasons you should choose mediation if it’s an option for your divorce and what steps to take as you begin the process. Contact me today for a free 15 minute consultation (with both parties!).