Have you and your partner opted for divorce mediation? If so, a good choice to have made. Divorce mediation is a great process to make your rightful claim on assets that you deserve, but only if you know what you are doing. You can’t go into a meeting with guns blazing thinking that everything is going to go in your favor. For one thing, your partner may raise some issues to weaken your claim and without any evidence supporting it, you may leave the mediation displeased. Therefore, if you want to strengthen your position, prepare yourself before you head for your first mediation meeting. Here’s what you have to do:
1. Get a Copy of All Your Financial Documents
The first step to successfully obtain what you want is to gather the following financial documents:
- Brokerage & Bank Accounts
- Vehicle Insurance and Loans
- Time Shares
- Business Documents (corporate tax returns and a current profit-loss statement)
- Retirement Funds
- Credit Card Balances
- Mortgage and Home Equity Payments
- Pending Debts
- The last 3 years of Tax Returns
You can both gather these documents together or separately depending on your current financial situation.
2. Arrange to Meet with the Mediator Separately
If you are doubtful about your partner’s intentions, contact the mediator to arrange a meeting alone to discuss issues. You can request to meet the mediator separately at any stage of the mediation process. The mediator is not going to leak the information to your partner, so you can express your concerns with ease, as long as both parties agree that the mediator can speak with the parties individually.
3. Know Your Rights
For some, divorce mediation is new. They may not have any prior knowledge of what happens during the meetings. On the other hand, your partner who suggested it may already have vast knowledge of it. Therefore, talk to people who already have gone through this process, read books on it, talk to a mediator, and research online. In doing so, you will know what your options are and what you can do or not do during meetings.
4. Learn to Negotiate, Not Argue
Even though your partner is the last person you may want to see, you need to attend the meetings with a clear and cool head. Learn to control your outbursts especially when your partner brings up an issue that you both bump heads on. Instead, look at the bigger picture, talk with your partner, and come up with solutions to solve it.
5. Present a Budget
Alimony (spousal support) is an issue that people want solved quickly without any bad blood developing between them. In order to come to a joint decision, it’s recommended that both partners draw up a budget. The partner asking for the monthly income should list all the expenses that incur within a month whereas the other partner should list their expenses and how much they are able to pay, to get an idea of what support might be needed.
Gerald A. Maggio is an experienced Orange County divorce and family law lawyer and family law attorney located in Irvine, California, serving the Orange County and Riverside areas. Mr. Maggio assists clients with legal issues including divorce, legal separation, divorce mediation, child custody, prenuptial agreements, stepparent adoptions, and other family law issues. Mr. Maggio has practiced law in California since 1999, and founded The Maggio Law Firm in 2005, focusing exclusively on divorce and family law matters.