How To Prepare for Divorce Mediation
- Gather important paperwork
- Craft a list of critical discussion points
- Set your goals
- Practice your speech
- Prepare your body
- Arrive ready to talk
Divorce is one of the most stressful events a person can go through in life. While you can't make the stress disappear, you can prepare for some of the hardest conversations yet to come, including mediation.
Solid preparation can alleviate some of your worries and help you to move through the process more quickly.
During divorce mediation, you'll discuss the details of your estate and determine how to split up your debts and assets. You could even discuss where your children will live and how you will support them.
Some conversations last for just a few hours. But if you have plenty to discuss, you may need multiple sessions over several days. Here's what you can do to prepare for this important meeting:
1. Gather important paperwork
If you have a lawyer working on your case, that professional can help you determine what types of paperwork you should bring with you. If you don't have a lawyer, you handle this task alone.
Consider bringing the following:
- Schedules: If you're sharing custody of children, bring your school schedules and some ideas about when children will move from one residence to another.
- Assessments: If you're discussing real estate, bring documents that prove how much each contested property is worth. If you don't have assessments, mortgage statements or tax documents could help.
- Statements: Bring current documents from banks, credit card companies, credit unions, pension providers, and anywhere else that issues debt or credit.
- Union proof: Sometimes, you need firm dates about when your marriage started and ended to distribute your assets. Bring any evidence you have in case these dates seem fluid to your partner.
In general, you can't have too many documents in this very important meeting. If you think you might need it, bring it.
2. Craft a list of critical discussion points
Some couples argue about almost everything in their divorce, from the family home to the custody of their children. Others have just one or two sticky points.
If you've traded documents with your partner, you may already know what issues are blocking your progress. If a court sent you to mediation (and some do), you may have talking points ready too.
If you don't have talking points ready, craft them now. Think about what you want in the divorce and what your partner wants. If you spot areas of conflict, prepare to discuss them in mediation.
3. Set your goals
Experts say all successful mediation meetings begin with preparation. Think about the following beforehand:
- What is important to you?
- What is important to your partner?
- What is important to other people (like your children)?
Since mediations are negotiations, you must be prepared for some give and take. But you should have a clear understanding of what you want from each discussion topic. And you should know what solutions just won't work for you in the long run.
4. Practice your speech
Mediators help people to discuss issues, and they remain neutral during your conversation. They do not offer solutions or push parties to agree. But they do introduce topics for the parties to discuss.
Some mediators introduce a topic and ask both parties to explain their potential solution. Think about what you will say when it's your turn to speak. You can write down your speech and read it verbatim, or you can just jot down the important points.
5. Prepare your body
Mediation meetings can take a long time, and in most cases, you're seated around a table in a conference room. Get a good night's sleep the night before your meeting so you're rested and ready to talk. Eat a healthy breakfast so you're not hungry and jittery.
Divorce is typically stressful and unsettling. It's normal to feel anxious and upset as you prepare for mediation. Try meditation or yoga to help yourself calm down the morning before your meeting.
6. Arrive ready to talk
Mediations are negotiations between two parties who don't agree. The negotiations begin as soon as the meeting begins. Ensure that you show respect to your spouse by doing the following:
- Arriving at the meeting on time
- Arranging for childcare if you need it
- Organizing your documents so you can find everything easily
When both parties show respect, the negotiations go smoother, and both parties are more likely to end up satisfied with the results. Remind yourself what is at stake and that you and your ex have a mutual goal of a good resolution.
Before you open the door and walk into your mediation, take a deep breath, square your shoulders, and enter with confidence. You can do this.
Watch: Your Top Divorce Mediation Questions, Answered by Erin Levine
ReferencesSurvey Finds Moving More Stressful Than Divorce. (November 2020). California Department of Consumer Affairs.
Mediation in Florida. Florida Courts.
Preparing for a Mediation. United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
Frequently Asked Questions, Family Court Mediation Program. (July 2012). Rhode Island Courts.