Going through a divorce is tough on everyone. Especially if you have children.
So to try and minimize the stress and cost an attorney-driven divorce will bring to you and your family, you've decided to learn more about the peaceful and cost-effective method of mediation. And wondering how does mediation work.
Below are the 5 steps you and your spouse will take as you move through the divorce and mediation process.
Step 1. Choose Your Mediator
Once you've made the decision to mediate your divorce, you and your spouse will need to agree on a mediator.
The professional you choose will go a long way in determining how well or how poorly your mediation goes so it's best to take your time and choose your mediator wisely. Instead of just hiring the one closest to you. Or the cheapest one you can find.
Learn what to look for in a mediator
Step 2. Discovery & Information Gathering
In order for your mediator to assist you with your case, he or she is going to need to know more about you, your spouse and your children. This will be learned through what is referred to as the discovery process.
During this process, you and your spouse will share with your mediator items such as:
- tax returns
- bank statements
- retirement statements
- house valuations
- mortgage statements
- credit card statements
- pay stubs
- your children's names and ages
as well as prepare a budget and a balance sheet of your marital assets and liabilities. All of this will help the mediator learn more about your unique circumstances.
Step 3. Negotiation and Agreement
Once your mediator knows a lot more about your situation, they can begin working with you to discuss all of the issues that need discussion and agreement.
They typically cover four main areas:
- Child Custody & Parenting Plans
- Child Support
- Alimony (also known as Spousal Support or Maintenance)
- The Distribution of Your Marital Assets and Liabilities (Equitable Distribution)
As you work through one issue, you may find yourself at an impasse. Your mediator will help you both negotiate and come to agreement on all of the relevant issues.
Step 4. Document Drafting
After all conversations have been had and all agreements have been made, your mediator will draft what's known as the Memorandum of Understanding or MOU.
This document reflects all conversations and agreements had between the two of you and your mediator and will be used in the filing of your divorce. Along with a number of other forms and worksheets.
Step 5. Filing The Divorce
At the end of the mediation, you will now need to alert the courts of your intent to divorce. And need to file all of the paperwork from mediation. As well as a number of other worksheets and forms required by the court.
These forms vary from state to state and county to county so it's best to check with your professional on what is required of you and your spouse.
There are some mediators (like us) who can help facilitate the filing and some that cannot. There are some couples who choose to do it themselves and some who each want to involve lawyers.
At the end of the day, how you file the divorce is entirely up to you. And whatever you're both comfortable with.
The divorce and mediation processes are nearly identical in that they both cover all of the legal and financial issues required to get a divorce. The main (and most important) difference is the professional you choose to guide you through that process.
Choosing mediation and working together to come to agreement versus hiring two attorneys to battle it out will save you time, money and heartache in the short and long run.
Equitable Mediation specializes in helping divorcing couples negotiate a fair settlement and divorce peacefully and cost-effectively – without lawyers.
For more than 20 years, Equitable Mediation Founder and Divorce Mediator Joe Dillon has been helping individuals, couples and corporations mediate a myriad of complex issues and intractable problems by utilizing his expertise in negotiation, finance and interpersonal relationships.
For more than 20 years, Co-Founder, Divorce Coach and Co-mediator Cheryl Dillon has been employing her background in psychology, human resources and life coaching to help individuals overcome obstacles to achieve their goals and reach their fullest potential.
Joe and Cheryl are passionate about helping couples avoid the destruction of attorney-driven litigation and know first-hand that the right information, combined with the right expertise and the right kind of support can make the challenging process of divorce less expensive, less time-consuming and less stressful for divorcing couples and their children.
Equitable Mediation serves clients in New Jersey, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Colorado, New York and California.
Joe and Cheryl can be contacted by phone at: (877) 732-6682
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