Facing a Divorce? The 4 Things You Should Know About Mediation Preparation
Divorce procedures are nobody’s idea of a picnic, but with the right counsel in your corner, it can be so much less stressful – for both parties. If handled well, divorce mediation can be all that needs to happen to resolve all the issues from your separation and divorce in the state of North Carolina. Mediation preparation is important to ensure the process goes smoothly.
The most straightforward type of divorce is an uncontested divorce, where you and your spouse come to an agreement on all divorce-related issues. This is what divorce mediation is designed to accomplish. At the very least, mediation can minimize the contested issues as much as possible. This cuts down on court costs for everybody and is almost always easier and less stressful for the parties involved (especially children).
Divorce Mediation Has Specific Aims
The unique needs for your and your spouse’s situation are what will determine the mediation preparation. The issues that mediation is designed to help with include:
- Alimony payments
- Child support
- Parenting plans and schedules
- Asset and property division
- Other specific situations (e.g., life insurance, college expenses, or other needs)
To do this, you and your spouse, through your lawyers, will arrange for a mediation session with aa the state of North Carolina’s lower courts will arrange for lower-cost (as compared to court) sessions between you, your spouse, both of your legal representatives, and a neutral third-party mediator.
The Third-Party Mediator Has Specific Functions
A mediator should be expected to fulfill several functions:
- Keep the parties focused on the most important matters
- Facilitate open discussion
- Help spouses identify the key points of contention to be resolved
- Offer settlement suggestions when asked
In North Carolina, mediation usually lasts all day and takes place in the mediation’s office. To prepare, you should:
- Collect relevant paperwork beforehand (ask your lawyer what specifically is needed)
- Schedule yourself off work for the entire day and find alternative childcare as mediation can run past traditional office hours
- Determine if in-person or Zoom mediation would be more effective
- Itemize the issues that you and your spouse do and do not agree about
- Make a list of your must-haves and nice-to-haves in the negotiations
While you need to obtain a mediation certification to become a family financial mediator in North Carolina, we urge anyone going through mediation to find a family lawyer who is also a mediator. Even though a mediator cannot make decisions for you, a family law mediator can offer suggestions and solutions which they have seen work in other cases. An experienced mediator can help you decide which issues to tackle in which order. Oftentimes, having small victories for both sides in the early hours of mediation can establish traction to help resolve larger issues later in the day. Resolving matters without Court involvement can save time, money, and emotional stress.
Your Divorce Attorney Can Help Field Sensitive Subjects
You should be clear on which topics you’ll need to communicate about and which topics should instead be addressed by your legal counsel. Your counsel may be relied on to best effect on the following topics:
- Issues which are hard to speak about due to their emotionally upsetting content
- Anything that might incriminate you or give you less negotiation leverage – especially if the spouse has shown signs of wanting to use it against you
- Matters which require privacy beyond you and your spouse’s relationship (such as information about a mutual friend that could needlessly hurt their reputation)
How To Know What Documents You Need To Prepare Before Mediation
You should not hide assets or other important information, especially because it’s likely the other counsel would easily discover anything you tried to hide a subpoena. This kind of “zero-sum” thinking is not for anyone who wants to have a resolution with their spouse.
The information needed before mediation depends on what decisions or calculations might be needed to be made. Consider the example of when a property value might need to be predetermined:
- If you both agree to sell and divide the sells proceeds of a house, you won’t need to research the real estate market and try to pin down an exact figure – you both agree to 50% of whatever it nets at sale.
- If, instead, you want your spouse to agree to use the value of the house to offset alimony or other expenses, you’ll need to research property values beforehand in order to negotiate, and, likely, you will need an appraisal or at least a market analysis for mediation.
Compile all data about your assets, debts, accounts, income, expenses, and other mediation topics even if it might not seem necessary – it’s better to have too much information rather than not enough. If you need to be sure, ask your lawyer about the likelihood of needing some particular data.
Divorce Mediation in NC
To ensure the best divorce mediation possible in the State of North Carolina, you’ll need an experienced divorce attorney who knows who the best mediators are. It can save you time and money in the long run by hiring a divorce attorney who knows the divorce mediation process in your area like the back of their hand. The result is a brighter future and an easier time for the whole family during what otherwise can be an emotionally taxing ordeal. That’s the service we provide all clients at Triangle Smart Divorce. Contact us right away to get started.