If you and your spouse have decided to end your marriage, you may be dreading litigation and having to comply with the decisions a judge will make for your life going forward.
There is, however, another option. Mediation has many advantages over litigation, and one of them is allowing you and your spouse to control the outcome of your divorce.
What it means
Mediation, a more informal option for divorce, takes place outside of the courtroom. No judge will be present. You and your spouse will sit down with a mediator trained to facilitate negotiations between the two of you. The goal is for you to reach an agreement on asset distribution, child custody concerns and other matters pertaining to the divorce.
How to prepare
Make a list of your possessions. Separate property includes anything you owned prior to your marriage, and property that you and your spouse obtained during your marriage is marital property. For example, your list might show the marital home, furniture, your cars, art collection and jewelry. You and your spouse should also include financial information, such as your bank accounts, retirement funds, your salaries and/or Social Security income. Also, list all your monthly and yearly expenses.
Establish your terms
What do you want in the divorce settlement? What are your terms? A mediator is not biased and will try to help you both achieve your objectives. There has to be give and take; that is part of the process to reach an agreement. But knowing what your personal objectives are will help the process go more smoothly.
Open the discussion
Your first step toward mediation is to discuss the concept with your spouse. This is a team effort, so if the two of you can work together toward a satisfactory agreement, you will save money and stress and avoid a lengthy and possibly contentious court process. Mediation is also private and, best of all, it gives you more control over the outcome than you would ever have in the courtroom.