Divorce can be a challenging process when you and your spouse struggle to agree on fundamental topics such as asset division, child custody and spousal support. Divorce mediation can be the ideal solution to help you settle matters from a neutral standpoint. This involves help from a skilled mediator who assesses both parties’ situations and helps negotiate a suitable solution. 

So, how do they do this and should you prepare anything for negotiation? In this guide, we’ll outline a divorce settlement agreement checklist to help you prepare for this process. 

A Comprehensive Divorce Mediation Checklist 

When going into mediation, an experienced mediator will usually provide you with a list of documents to bring or even ask for digital copies in advance of the first session. Still, it is essential to understand and be prepared for what you will discuss during the meeting. Below is a comprehensive divorce agreement checklist to prepare you for the process. 

1. Mutually Agree With Your Spouse to Enter Mediation 

There are times when communication becomes challenging during divorce and emotions get in the way of making a reasonable decision. In these cases, it may be best to treat your divorce like a negotiation or business transaction. A qualified professional who specializes in mediation or family law may be able to assist you in finding common ground to ensure you and your spouse reach a decision both parties can benefit from. Discuss this route with your spouse to promote a smoother divorce process. 

2. Choose a Suitable Divorce Mediator 

Choose a trained mediator who has experience dealing with cases similar to yours and the qualifications to prove that they can. This is important since a mediator must be neutral in helping you reach a mutual agreement. You will also be disclosing personal information to your mediator, so it’s important to feel comfortable and confident in their assistance during the negotiation process. 

3. Approach Mediation With an Open Mind 

You may have ideas on which subjects will resolve easily, which will be more challenging and which subjects you will stand your ground on even if your spouse is against it. In some cases, it will be best to approach certain conversations with an open mind. Listen to what your spouse and mediator have to say and what their reasonings are. Working together can help you reach a suitable solution that would have been challenging to discover through your perspective alone. 

4. List All Assets and Debt 

Another essential part of your divorce mediation checklist is creating a list of all your assets and debts. Your spouse should do the same in case either of you forget to list something. It’s important to state whether they are community, separate or joint assets and clarify their possession in the settlement agreement. The mediator will help you evaluate the assets and come to an equitable distribution for any that requires it. 

5. Come With Ideal Arrangements and Be Prepared to Make Compromises 

Come prepared to the mediation meeting with ideal property, custody and support arrangements that will benefit everyone involved. At the same, it’s important to remember that your spouse will also have needs and reasonable arrangements you may have to adapt to. Sort out your priorities and figure out which arrangements are essential and which arrangements you can bend for the benefit of your family or spouse. 

6. Gather the Necessary Documents 

When going into mediation, you’ll need to bring various marital and financial documents to ensure your mediator gains an accurate picture of your financial situation. Your mediator may create a checklist of documents to bring, including: 

  • Marriage license 
  • Prenuptial agreements 
  • Childbirth or adoption documents 

7. Bring the Relevant Financial Documents 

Your mediator will likely require financial documentation to verify income and calculate expenses going forward. You should also get accurate valuations and appraisals of any complex income structures such as property or business ownership. Some financial statements they may require include: 

  • Bank statements 
  • Credit card statements 
  • Pay stubs 
  • Tax returns 

8. Decide if You Want to Keep Your Home and Who Will Stay in It 

Another important factor in your divorce settlement checklist is deciding whether it is feasible to keep your home after divorce. A mediator can appoint an appraiser or realtor to help you calculate the value of your home. You’ll then need to decide who will stay in the house, especially when there are children involved. Your mediator can help you evaluate the best solution. 

9. Decide on the Ideal Child Custody and Parenting Time 

It’s crucial to consider a child custody schedule that will work best for your family and explain why it works best during mediation. Together with your mediator and spouse, you may be able to conclude a creative solution that benefits everyone, especially your children. You can also negotiate holiday and vacation schedules. If coming to a decision proves too challenging even with a mediator, the court may decide for you. 

10. Discuss Child Support 

Discussing child support matters will often require considering the custody and income of both parents. If you and your spouse find it challenging to come to a decision, your mediator will assess the income of both parties and all other relevant financial information and review the child support guidelines to reach a suitable agreement. If you struggle to come to an agreement, a divorce mediator can help you work on the issues you can agree on and litigate child support alone. 

11. Address Spousal Support 

In most cases, the spouse who earns more income than the other must pay spousal support to the spouse who earns less. Your mediator will discuss the different factors that apply when determining spousal support. The lesser-earning spouse should estimate how much support they need before mediation and so that the mediator can begin determining which will work best for both parties during mediation. 

12. Review the Marital Settlement Agreement Carefully 

Once you and your spouse have agreed on some or all of your divorce issues, the mediator will draw up a marital settlement agreement and send it to the court so they may review and approve the settlement. Before they send it through, carefully review the terms of the agreement or ask a mediator to walk you through it to ensure you understand exactly what you are agreeing to and what your responsibilities are going forward. 

Get in Touch With a Mediator From Johnson Duffie 

By following this checklist, your divorce mediation process may go a lot smoother and help you negotiate solutions that benefit everyone. Johnson Duffie is a law firm with skilled attorneys who are experienced in mediation. 

Our family law attorneys work to achieve the best possible solution for your family. Whether you need help with litigation, mediation or spousal or child support, contact Johnson Duffie today to get in touch with an expert attorney.