If you chose mediation as the path to divorce, you are probably somewhat nervous as you go into your first session. You do not know how your spouse is going to behave, for one thing, and you only hope you can carry this meeting off with dignity and a calm, sensible approach to the situation.
A certain amount of anxiety is normal, but your mediator will make every effort to maintain a civil, collaborative atmosphere. You can lower the stress level significantly by being well prepared.
Negotiations are what mediation is all about. Prepare for a proactive process that should be very helpful. Think about what you want out of the negotiations. Your mediator will help you approach this aspect with a realistic viewpoint so you can operate in the realm of those goals that are reasonable and possible to achieve.
Controlling your emotions
Do whatever you need to before the mediation process begins to get your emotions under control. This may mean speaking with a friend heart-to-heart, talking to your clergyman or joining a support group. Leave your feelings, especially the anger and hurt, at the door. The more composed you are when you come to mediation, the more efficient you will find the session to be.
You will need to bring your financial records to mediation. Here is a list of the basics:
- Bank and brokerage account balances
- Retirement funds balances and annuities
- Credit card balances
- Monthly payments and balance remaining on your mortgage
- Loan balances, including car loans and student loans
- Loans from relatives or friends
- Properties in addition to your home
- Stock or equity in companies
- Value of household contents
An organized list or spreadsheet would be perfect. You can either work on this with your spouse, or the two of you can do so separately.
Experience and compassion
You will want a mediator with plenty of experience, who understands what you are going through and offers sound guidance so that you and your spouse can complete mediation in as amicable a fashion as possible. It is a practical process that provides considerable savings in time and expense and helps many couples avoid the anger and hurt feelings that often occur with a litigated divorce.