Choose the right mediator. Before researching potential mediators, make a list of key concerns and questions. All mediators should have a solid understanding of the legal, financial and emotional aspects of separation and divorce. Many mediators also have expertise in specific areas such as: children with special needs and personal finance.
Questions to ask. When consulting a mediator, ask about:
- The mediator’s background and training.
- What characterizes the mediator’s style?
- What types of decisions will we make in mediation?
- How will our decisions be documented? Will we receive a legal agreement when mediation is completed?
- Does the mediator recommend or require working with consulting or review attorneys?
- Does the mediator work with accountants, pension experts, child specialists or other professionals?
- What is the process for working with the mediator including fees and a typical timeline?
Get organized financially. Much of mediation is about financial matters – income, expenses, assets and liabilities. Work with your partner to make a list of assets and debts and begin gathering copies of all financial records such as the most recent federal and state tax returns, W-2 and 1099 forms, pay stubs, statements for bank accounts and investment accounts, credit cards statements, statements for loans and mortgages, insurance policies, and retirement accounts. Create a household budget to reflect current living expenses. A complete financial picture ensures a realistic assessment of any and all options.
Focus on the big picture. Think about what truly matters and remain open minded. Consider the values that are most important to you and focus on long-term goals.