Your marriage is over. Now what? You know you don’t want a nasty in-court divorce procedure, but what is divorce mediation really like?
In short, it’s the most amicable choice. You don’t have to be best friends with your soon-to-be ex during the mediation process, but you do have to be friendly.
Both parties need to agree to this method and willingly participate in the sessions.
Before you start making your divorce mediation list, talk to your partner about logistics. Who will pay the mediation fees? Will it be split it down the middle?
You could agree that the person who makes more pays or the person who asked for the divorce pays. It’s one hundred percent up to you and your personal situation.
Making Your Divorce Mediation List
Once you’ve found a mediator, figured out the fees, and glanced at the process, it’s time to start your divorce mediation list.
The Master List
While you’re together, make a list of your assets. Every single one! Don’t denote which asset belongs to who or who they’ll go to – just make a comprehensive list.
This doesn’t have to be everything you own, but it should be things you care about. Property, vehicles, bank accounts, credit cards, insurance policies, anything worth dividing up.
If you’ve collected an intensive DVD collection and it means a lot to you, count that. This major list of things you’ve collected during your lives together will save a lot of headaches.
Your mediator can help divide them up equally or come up with solutions you weren’t aware of. It cuts down on tension and makes the outlook of your divorce clear.
Once you have your list of assets and property, move on to records. What proof is there of your life together?
We’re talking about proof of income, house titles, car titles, social security, joint accounts – anything and everything. What are your ongoing expenses? If you’re separated, look at the bills from the last time you weren’t.
What were you spending on bills, loans, insurance, gas, groceries, and the like? Having as much information as you can will help you fill out your financial affidavit with ease.
If you fill it out and a court finds you were trying to hide an asset, they’ll hold that against you. Remember, things you sign are legally binding documents.
You need to be forthright with the truth or it could halt your divorce process.
Make An Issues List
With the logistical stuff jotted down, you can approach some touchier issues. You don’t have to figure them out on your own, that’s what your mediator is for!
This issues list can hold a wide range of things. What are you concerned most about in the divorce? We’ll make a separate list for children later.
Are you concerned about living situations? Cost of living and alimony? What about holidays, relationships with in-laws, and extended family time.
Do you expect to have family events together? Is your ex invited to family reunions, if they attend with the kids? Does it feel fair to cut them off if you have a large extended family they’re close with?
Get all your deep dark fears out on the paper. They’re not doing you any good circling around your mind. You don’t even need them to be in question form.
If they’re not something you’re willing to discuss yet or don’t know how to approach, do this on your own. Write down, I’m scared that ___ will happen after we divorce.”
These are things you can address with your mediator, therapist, or partner one on one. Putting them down on paper helps them transfer from your emotional mind into your logical one.
It may not solve your worries, but it should start to make them easier to process.
The Kid List
If you have children or fur babies, you’re likely worried about how your divorce will affect them. That’s relevant and you’re a good, loving parent for wanting to make it easier on them.
Studies show that it’s better for children to see an amicable divorce than to continue to be in a high-conflict household. Hopefully, that makes you feel better about your choice.
Things to think about and put on this list are:
If you’re separating with kids, neither of you will have full custody, unless it’s a very bad situation. Even if someone has more time than the other, you’re still co-parents.
How will you address changes in home locations? Will you try to live close to each other so your move doesn’t affect zoning? What about neighborhood friends and afterschool activities?
Who will take who where and when?
If you decide to hire a nanny, is that a cost that you two split or is it up to the individual co-parent to pay the nanny on their time?
Holidays are another matter. Who gets Christmas and Thanksgiving? Birthdays? You can alternate, but make sure the system is in place.
Do not bring your kids into this discussion yet. If they’re old enough, you should involve them in the process, but not until you have a better grasp of what will happen.
The List of Lists
Along with the specific lists in this article, here is a general grouping of things you should discuss:
- Legal Child Custody
- Child-related finances
- Property and money
- Group debt
- Guardianship and Wills
- Alimony or Support
- Housing Situations
- Medical expenses
- A list of non-negotiables
Make a list of things neither of you is willing to give up. Each person should make their divorce mediation list alone and then you can discuss them together.
If you have clashing non-negotiables, bring this up with your mediator. They’ll help you find a solution.
A divorce is a messy process. You can make a divorce mediation list, but the general task doesn’t get easier.
Trust that yourself and your partner are making the right decision to separate and try to be kind. You will get through this and you’ll adjust to your new realities.
If you have children, show them how to handle disagreements with love and understanding. It may not heal their hurt, but it’ll shape their expectations of love.
None of this is possible without a good mediator. You can’t do it all yourself, at least not without losing your mind. Our specialists have helped many families become separate units and we can help you too!
All you have to do is call us.