Mediation (Part 2) – How to Prepare
If you’re headed into mediation, especially without an attorney, you need to be prepared. No exceptions!
You’ll feel more empowered and less anxious, and the mediator and your ‘soon to be ex’ with be thinking “Woah, she’s got her shit together.” And they’ll be right!
But how do you prepare?
How do you walk in with kick-ass confidence and stand your ground, all while being reasonable with the end goal of coming to an agreement that works for you?
I’ll tell you how – KNOWLEDGE.
You’ve heard the saying “knowledge is power,” and that is fact when it comes to mediation.
Imagine walking in clueless and scared. What’s the likelihood you’ll get what you want? Or that you’ll feel comfortable agreeing to anything at all? Pretty close to nothing.
Now imagine walking in understanding the process, all the possible outcomes, and exactly what you want and what you will agree to. You’ll save time, you’ll save money, and you’re more likely to walk away feeling satisfied and comfortable with the agreement you come to. Plus you’ll be damn proud of yourself!
Mediation prep can be broken into to parts.
The first is the big picture. Know what happens in mediation. I wrote a post not too long ago that will give you the lowdown on the purpose of mediation, the basic ‘rules’ and what you’ll discuss. You can access it here.
The second is the details. Know every detail about every topic to be discussed and how you want each of them resolved.
When you think of the topics to be discussed remember the acronym PEACE:
- Parenting Plan
- Equitable distribution (or distribution of assets depending on your state)
- Alimony (or maintenance or spousal support depending on your state)
- Child Support
- Everything else
Know your options for each of these topics and know how, in a perfect world, you want them to be resolved.
Know what you’re willing to negotiate, and what is non-negotiable.
Know that you should not go in and begin to negotiate with the exact terms you will agree to. Start lower than what you want to offer or higher than what you demand so that you’ll likely be more satisfied with the end result. And know at the begin what you want that result to be.
Some things to consider for each topic:
1) Parenting Plan -What goes into a parenting plan? You can access a sample on line to get a basic idea of what they include. What do you want your plan to look like? How many days a week do you want your children with you? How do you want to divide up holidays, summers, school breaks, and vacations? Who will pick up and drop off the children and where? Do you want a limit on the distance you will live from your ex?
2) Equitable Distribution – What do you own? What do you owe? What is marital property? Is there any property that is not marital (anything you came into the marriage with, already decided to be separate property in an agreement or possibly an inheritance?). What do you want to keep? What are you willing to give up? What must be divided and how do you want to divide it?
3) Child support – What is your spouse’s income? What is your income? Approximately how many days will the children spend in each of your households? Then access a calculator in your state that will give you an estimate of the child support amount and who will pay it. Most states have a specific calculation for child support, but you can get very close to the amount by doing this research.
4) Alimony/Maintenance – What is your spouse’s income? What is your income? What factors does the alimony statute take into account when calculating alimony in your state?
5)Everything else – Every marriage is unique, and there may be factors to consider such as retirement funds, extra properties or items of value, animals, or other items that need to be distributed. Know every item at issue in your specific case and how you want it resolved. You may also want to consider topics that may come up down the road concerning your children like who will pay for summer camps, cell phones, cars, and college. Will the children go to public or private school and who will pay? And do you both agree to allow your children access to a child psychologist or therapist? Some states require the permission of both parents. Brainstorm here and consider every situation where you and your spouse typically do not agree, come to an agreement now, and get that topic into the agreement,
I know how intimidating this may seem at first! But don’t let it scare you! It is totally doable, with knowledge. And you are the one with access to that knowledge!
You know what you have and what you owe (even if you have to dig into accounts and paperwork to figure it out). You know what you want and what you are willing to give up. You know how you’d like to spend time with your children. You know how much money you need to live on, and you can evaluate the factors that are considered in alimony to get an idea of what you may be entitled to. You just need to do a bit of research and think it through!
The takeaway? Don’t go into mediation until you are prepared!
And if you need help preparing, contact me.
My mission is to empower women through their divorce, and mediation prep is one of the ways I’d love to help you!
Together, we will make sure that you have the knowledge you need to walk in confidently like the Queen/Goddess that you are and walk out feeling centered, accomplished, and powerful. Take on the personality of Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones (at least the positive traits) and you’ve got the picture – She is strong, courageous, just, and knows how to makes difficult decisions. She’s also not afraid to ask for help when needed. And she has unwavering faith in herself.
I have faith that you can do this!