The focus in divorce mediation is on coming up with a plan that is "fair and equitable." Keeping that standard in mind for our clients at Westfield Mediation, LLC would seem to lead to an easy path for dividing assets and debts, and creating a reasonable plan for spousal support. Yet, in many divorces, the emotional and the financial are all tangled up, and what's fair to one person seems quite unfair to the other.
Generally, (with a few exceptions), both the assets and debts accumulated during marriage are shared. But what if one spouse ran up big credit card bills while having an affair, or in a less extreme scenario, buying high-ticket items he or she knew that other spouse wouldn't approve. Should those bills still be evenly shared? What if one spouse helped the other pay off debt early in their marriage – is there any credit later on for that assistance? What if one party's low salary was an ongoing source of strain, should that spouse still get an equivalent settlement or generous alimony plan? Are the burdens borne by the primary parent and the primary earner the same? Should they share the pot evenly?
These are the kinds of emotional financial issues we commonly deal with in divorce mediation. We help divorcing couples draft a financial plan that they can both accept, keeping in mind both the best interests of the children, and the fair and equitable standard. It can be tricky, but the goal is to make it less of a win-lose scenario, and more of a collaborative effort. Working together with a mediator through this process helps preserve a better ongoing relationship; and divorcing couples who have some input into the plan are more likely to follow it.