Divorce mediation can make a difficult time in your life a little easier. Mediation is often faster, simpler and cheaper than the traditional divorce process. A mediator can facilitate open conversations and compromises between you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse, potentially enabling an agreement so you can both avoid going to court. Use this checklist before your divorce mediation appointment in Fort Collins, Colorado so you can arrive fully prepared. After the mediation is complete, find out what to expect after.
Many couples need multiple mediation appointments to settle their divorces because they arrive to their first without important paperwork and supporting documents. To resolve issues such as finances, property division and child custody, you will need to bring certain official documents with you to mediation. These include your past:
bank account information
evaluations of owned properties or businesses
retirement fund information
Bring as much documentation of your finances to your appointment as possible to avoid having to reschedule.
It is possible to have a successful mediation without using an attorney to represent you. This may not serve your best interests, however, if you have a complicated divorce case. If this is so, it may be in your best interest to speak with a divorce lawyer. If you will need to work through matters such as child custody, complex assets, high-value properties, businesses, retirement accounts or alimony, you may need a lawyer to help you sort through things. If you hear your spouse has hired a lawyer for mediation, you should probably do the same.
Look for a Fort Collins divorce mediation attorney with special training in handling mediations. Meet with your attorney separately before your mediation. Find one that can help you stand up for yourself and state your priorities clearly. Then, all four of you (both spouses and both attorneys) will meet before a third-party mediator. You may need to sign a no-court agreement that says both attorneys will withdraw if mediation fails and you have to go to court. If your case does proceed to trial after signing this, you would need to hire a new lawyer.
List of Your Priorities
Arrive with a list of your top priorities ready to go. List what matters to you the most in order from greatest to least. If having your kids with you for Christmas is important to you, for example, put it at the top of your list. You may be unmoving on the items at the very top of your list, but more lenient with other items. Your spouse may have a similar list. You can compare them to find any middle ground and areas where compromise is possible. Your spouse may be willing to go your way on one thing if you go his/her way on another.
Pen and Paper
For mediation to be a viable option, both you and your spouse must actively participate in the process. Show that you are committed, interested and willing to work together by arriving with a pen and paper (or a laptop or tablet) to take notes. Prepare to listen, put in your two cents, take notes on what your spouse or lawyer has said, organize your thoughts, and compromise on the factors of your divorce. Mediation is voluntary, not a court requirement. The only way it will work is if you both do your parts.
An Open Mind
Mediation is a collaborative divorce option. It is critical to show up to your mediation with an open mind. Arriving with firm ideas of how it will go could lead to disappointment and failure to reach any agreements. While you should stand your ground on topics that really matter to you, prepare for more of a give and take with your ex-spouse rather than a “my way or the highway” mentality. Your ex-spouse will appreciate your open mind and may perhaps be more willing to compromise with you in return. An open mind and a willingness to compromise will help mediation go smoothly.