Getting Ready for Mediation
Mediation Homework for Property, Investments and Debts
Homework for divorce mediation can be tedious. Preparation for mediation involves gathering relevant information on all assets owned by either party, tracing separate property that was acquired before the marriage, determining the fair market value of the assets and the balance of any related debt, preparing a personal post-separation budget of income and expenses, inventorying credit cards and related balances, researching various options with respect to any real estate that is owned, and walking through the house and tagging who wants items of personal property. Your mediator will provide a spreadsheet that can be used for this purpose. If this information is available at the first mediation session, simply having a full picture of the parties’ financial situation will greatly speed the progress of divorce discussions. Sometimes parties agree on a 50:50 split of the assets and liabilities and other times horse-trading occurs. There is flexibility in mediation to divide assets and liabilities in a manner that the parties consider equitable.
Mediation Homework for Spousal Support
If spousal support is being discussed, each of the parties will need to prepare a detailed budget showing all sources of income and all expected expenses on a monthly basis post-separation and post-divorce. This information is used to support the need for spousal support as well the ability to pay spousal support. It’s not unusual for both budgets to reflect deficits. If that happens, some painful budget discussions are necessary. The mediator will provide a spreadsheet that can be used for this purpose as well.
Mediation Homework for Child Custody, Visitation and Support
In the case of a mediation involving custody, visitation and support for a child, the following information is necessary to complete child support calculations and discuss a parenting plan:
- Names and birth dates of children under 19 years old or still in high school.
- Addresses of the parents.
- Copies of any court filings and previous agreements.
- Calendars that show the activities of the children.
- Gross income of each of the parents, including a copy of a recent paycheck, tax return or W-2 to document income.
- Information on who pays for health, dental and vision insurance for the children and the cost of that insurance.
- Information supporting the cost of any school related costs, after-school care, summer camps, and extracurricular activities.
- Cost of any work-related childcare paid by each of the parents.
Mediation Homework for Contracts, Closely-held Businesses or Other Unusual Assets or Liabilities
If the situation involves a contract or other information that will likely be raised, documentation is helpful if it exists.
To facilitate discussion, any information that is gathered by one of the parties will be shared with the other party.