Preparing for Mediation in your Divorce

Many divorcing parties believe their case will go to court because there is so much friction and disagreement about the path forward. The media also portrays divorce this way. In reality, it’s much more likely that you’ll settle details of your divorce through collaboration with your attorneys during mediation.

Many courts will order mediation before you involve a judge in your case. Mediation saves the parties time and money because it takes more time and resources to prepare for trial than to negotiate with a mediator. Courts also order mediation because it is often successful and generally parties are more satisfied with the outcome of their case than those who ultimately go to court.

In this post, we help prepare you for the financial aspects of your mediation, including steps you can take to get ready, building your support network, and understanding limitations.

Prepare Your Case

If you have arrived at mediation, then you likely haven’t been able to come to a complete compromise on an aspect of your settlement. In approaching mediation, you can more easily make a case for what you want in your settlement if you come prepared. 

Make sure to complete and exchange any required documentation, such as a sworn financial statement, before mediation. Create a list of key topics that matter to you to ensure the conversation stays on track. Meet with a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) before mediation to understand future cash flows, tax implications of asset division, and budgets. The more familiar you are with the subject matter the more comfortable you will be to negotiate toward a better outcome. 

Get clear about what you want, your goals, and your desired outcomes of mediation. Make sure you and your attorney have discussed these wants so that you can frame your negotiations around them. Consider what you’ll accept, from cash, to assets, to how you’d like the home divided and any other decisions that are unique to your divorce. Consider the tax consequences, financial logistics and benefits of all possible outcomes beforehand, so you understand the implications of what you might agree to in a mediation session. 

Calculate a post-divorce budget that you can present to the other party with detailed monthly income and expenses. Outline detailed future expenses like child care and health insurance. It can also be helpful to put together various scenarios based on employment situations (part-time, work from home, work in office) if you are currently not employed. Bring mortgage refinance information including future payments and cash out possibilities to be considered, timelines including when a mortgage can be refinanced based upon regulations, and what spousal or child support is needed.

Design Your Support Network

More than ever, people getting divorced are involving a variety of experts to advise them throughout the process. Consider who you might bring to various mediation sessions or who you may need to hire to support negotiations. Consider involving a financial expert who specializes in divorce to negotiate the details of your portfolio or a loan advisor to negotiate restructuring your home mortgage. 

Know Your Limits

Don’t forget that you are not obligated to settle the details of your divorce in mediation. You’ll likely have a list of non-negotiables, and that is okay. You can walk away from these sessions if your non-negotiables aren’t being addressed in a way that is acceptable.

You can also schedule multiple sessions if there are many details to negotiate in your divorce, if you need several different experts, or if long sessions tend to get heated. Sometimes, you may agree to a large part of your settlement through mediation, and still go to court for just one or two aspects that you can’t come to an agreement around. This can sometimes be an ideal outcome.

A.M. Financial can help with financial expertise for those going through divorce by providing insights and tools unique to your situation. Contact us to share more about the finances of your divorce and learn how we can help.