Being prepared for a mediation session is the best ways to make sure it goes smoothly. If you are not prepared for a session, it can prolong the mediation process and increase costs over time. A lack of preparation can also frustrate your spouse and could increase the stress levels. If being unprepared becomes a habit, the mediation process can sputter, making the others stakeholders doubt the non-performing individual’s commitment.
Typically, a mediator will finish every session with a summary of what was accomplished and what will be covered in the next session. This often includes a checklist of information and documents that you will need to provide in the next session – basically a homework assignment for the next session. While this often proves helpful for subsequent sessions, it will not help you prepare for your first session.
For your first mediation session, it is often helpful to have a complete list of the assets that you own (or you think you might own). This includes bank accounts and retirement funds, real estate, vehicles, and valuable personal belongings, as well as anything else that might be valuable, plus all of your outstanding debts. Financial records relating to you or your spouse’s income are also helpful, as is a list of your recurring expenses. School records relating to your children, or specific child-related costs, can also be helpful. Together, these records can give all involved a sense of a couple’s current lifestyle and flag potential conflicts or sources of discussion to be ironed out during the subsequent mediation sessions.
Finally, it is helpful to reflect on your goals for the future before the first mediation session begins. Having an idea of the outcomes you are seeking after the divorce is complete can help you negotiate more effectively and helps the mediator prioritize issues.