How to Prepare for Divorce Mediation

Many people ask how to prepare for divorce mediation.  It will help speed up the mediation process if both parties spend a few hours preparing by making lists of items they need resolved during the mediation.   This page lists some suggestions as well as providing useful links to articles and documentation that explains some options that may be discussed

Please also be sure to review the page about Focused Thinking Mediation.  With the mediation techniques used by Stan Posthumus, you will not simply be guided through the division of your property, but will learn how to solve issues together so that you are both happy with the outcome.

Consider gathering information on the following topics:

  • Regular income of both parties - including salaries, commission, bonuses, income from own businesses.
  • Other income sources - e.g. rental income / social security / pensions or investments
  • Housing costs - Rent or Mortgage / Home Equity loan payments, property taxes, insurance, repairs and maintenance costs, property management fees, lawn care / snow removal, furniture and major appliances etc.
  • Monthly Household costs - Groceries, Entertainment, Electric, Gas, Heating, TV, Phone, Internet, Cleaning, Pets etc.
  • Transportation costs - Vehicle loan payments and Insurance, Fuel, Vehicle repairs, Public transit, parking etc.
  • Health Care costs - Health Insurance premiums, Uncovered expenses including co-payments and deductibles, prescription drugs, dental, vision.
  • Child Care costs - Day care or school fees and school lunches, clothing, clubs and activities / sports, lessons, hobbies, magazine subscriptions, vacations / camps, allowances etc.
  • Education costs - Current or future anticipated school or college fees (e.g. tuition, books, on campus housing), also consider if a non-working spouse might need to retrain.
  • Real Estate Property - Properties value and outstanding mortgages or home equity loans, monthly payments and term.
  • Life Insurance Policies - Value, beneficiaries, monthly payments.
  • Retirement Accounts and Pension Plans - Current value of 401K, IRA, Pension benefits
  • Savings accounts and other investments - Current values of savings accounts, CDs, annuities etc.
  • Anticipated costs related to splitting up a household - e.g. moving costs, furniture purchase etc.
  • Other recurring expenses - Do you have other expenses that are paid monthly or annually?
Do I need to engage a Lawyer before mediation?

It is not necessary to engage a lawyer before mediation.  The mediator will help you reach a settlement and will record your agreement shortly after the mediation session in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding.  This document establishes a written record of common understanding between both parties and is not binding until signed by both parties.

Stan Posthumus always recommends that both parties have their respective attorneys review the Memorandum of Understanding after mediation, and assist with the process of making the terms of agreement legally binding through the divorce proceedings. This is not always necessary and is at clients' discretion.
Useful External Links
This will help you understand the Divorce process.  Note that generally the documentation will be prepared with your attorney.
The mediator will help you come to a joint decision on child custody and the appropriate level of support by both parents for minor children (under 18) as well as college age children.
The mediator will help you work out whether alimony is appropriate in your case, and if so how much and for how long.
The mediator will help you decide what is best in your case.
A Qualified Domestic Relations Order may be used to redistribute retirement benefits.
Links to various forms.