It may feel like you have already overcome the most difficult hurdle if you have already convinced your soon-to-be ex-spouse to agree to divorce mediation. The truth is that you still have a lot of work ahead of you. The following are must-do items that you need to finish before the mediation begins if you want to give yourself the best chance for an acceptable outcome.
#1: Create a List
You need to walk into the mediation room with a full list of every single asset you and your ex possess. This list should not be divided into ownership categories, but you can categorize it by the type of asset. The following are just a few examples of the items to include:
Investment and bank accounts
Life insurance and annuities
Vehicles, including both cars and recreational vehicles
Items of value, such as artwork, guns, or precious metals
Personal property, even if it may not have much value
You should also make up a separate list of all debts. Include credit card balances, loans, and any other forms of debt.
#2: Piece Together Your Joint Income and Personal Expenses
You will also need to show income. Include all regular income and split this list so each income source is listed beneath the person that earns it. This will include paychecks, self employment income, trust payments, pensions, and retirement payments.
Once the income is listed, create a second list for your personal living expenses. The first part of this document should contain your known, fixed expenses, such as car and home payments, student loan payments, credit card payments, and similar. The next portion should contain your variable expenses, such as food and gas. The final section should detail any expected expenses post divorce. For example, if you will be moving into an apartment, list average apartment rental costs in this section.
#3: Set Your Primary and Secondary Goals
It works best if you go into your mediation session knowing what you want. This will help you stay focused without getting hung up on small things. For property and debt matters, choose the few things that are most important to you to keep, and then select a few more items that you are more than willing to compromise on. Being willing to compromise is a key part of mediation, and offering a compromise on something that is less important to you may help encourage your ex to compromise on something else that you find more important.
Before going into mediation, sit down and go over your various lists with your attorney (for further assistance, check out the site here). They can help you fine tune these documents so that you are ready for a successful mediation session.