Going through the process of divorce can be quite costly, not only on your financial resources, but also on your time and emotions. If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement on various factors of the divorce, then the judge will decide for you. For these reasons, a good alternative for court is mediation.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is the process in which a neutral third-party helps to assist in the resolution process between parties. The idea of mediation is to avoid a contentious divorce situation, instead focusing on how to come to an agreement where each party is content. Mediation allows for the parties to maintain control of their lives and their decisions, something that would otherwise be given up to the courts and judges.
The steps of the mediation process are:
Inquiry: This means one party makes a call to a mediator, during which the mediator attempts to discover how the person received their name, the names of both parties involved, whether there are any issues that could prevent the couple from engaging in mediation, length of the marriage, number of children, and where in the process the parties are.
The First Session: This serves as an introduction and overview of the process, which includes fees, the number of sessions, the mediator’s role, objectives, issues to be addressed, and a list of documents for each party to bring to the next session. Such documents include:
Defined Benefit Pension Valuation
All bank, brokerage, and 401(k)/403(b) statements
Most recent federal tax return
Summary of insurance policies and coverage
List of household items to be divided
A credit report
The children’s school schedules, including holidays and days off
The Second Session: Focuses on the parenting plan and data collection, including:
Signing the agreement
Meeting between each party and the mediator
Developing a parenting plan
Providing budget worksheets
Collecting documentation requested in previous meetings
The Third Session: Focuses on data analysis for child support, as well as the distribution of assets and liabilities, including:
Reviewing child support and other child-related financial issues
Reviewing information on the assets and liabilities, and deciding how they will be divided
Collecting information regarding budgeting
The Fourth Session: Focuses on budgets and spousal support. This includes:
Current and Forecasted budgets
Spousal support if it is needed
Other issues, such as religious issues, income taxes, name changes, and social security
The Fifth/Last Session: Focuses on reviewing and revising the Memorandum of Understanding, which includes everything that was discussed and agreed upon during mediation.