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5 tips to help you prepare for divorce mediation

A form of alternative dispute resolution called mediation has gained in popularity over the past several years among couples looking for a divorce solution better than litigation.

If you believe mediation is the best format for your divorce, here are five tips to help you prepare:

1. Talk with your spouse

Your first step is to discuss the idea of mediation with your spouse. You must enter the process with the spirit of cooperation to reach a mutually satisfactory divorce agreement.

2. List assets and liabilities

Your mediator will guide you in negotiating a settlement, but you should provide the pertinent documents to work from, including a list of separate and marital possessions. Include information about your business income or salary, Social Security if applicable, bank accounts, credit card accounts, retirement accounts and any property you own.

3. Know what you want

What terms will you accept? Determine the parameters in advance of mediation. The range of terms extends to all aspects of your negotiations, including your parenting plan and child support consideration.

4. Prepare a financial affidavit

Your financial affidavit lists all your income streams and expenses. Remember that mediation involves full disclosure, so your affidavit must be entirely factual.

5. Separate financial and parenting plan discussions

The more affluent you are, the more complex your financial negotiations will be. Keep those separate from the decisions you make about raising your children. The goal is to keep their stress level as low as possible and create the most favorable post-divorce circumstances for them.

Keep control

Mediation has many benefits. It is a private process held away from court. It is less expensive and time-consuming than litigation. It is also less stressful and easier for children. Many couples feel that the most favorable overall benefit is that mediation allows them to control the outcome of their own divorce instead of having to abide by the judge's decisions. If you and your spouse believe you can work together to achieve a satisfactory divorce agreement, mediation may prove to be the leading solution for ending one phase of your lives and beginning another.

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