Divorce mediation isn’t easy, but going into the process prepared saves a lot of pain and frustration. To prepare, you’ll need to gather some critical documents and information that the mediator will need in order to make fair and reasonable suggestions. You’ll also need to consider a few questions in advance to ensure you’re prepared for the mediation itself.
Your identity isn’t just a personal concern. It affects legal proceedings. In order to move smoothly through mediation, your mediator and any legal advisors will need a number of important documents to prove your identity and history.
- Contact information, including mailing address(s), home phone, cell phone, email, etc.
- Proof of name and address along with a list of any previous addresses
- Employment and gross income
Assets and Liabilities
This will be the longest list of documents you need to bring. These will prove everything from active income to savings and insurance policies. It’s easy to overlook any one of these, but they are probably the most important documents you’ll need to ensure peaceful divorce mediation proceedings.
- Statements of all bank accounts, including savings, checking, CDs, etc.
- Statements of all stocks and bonds
- Records and valuation reports for automobiles
- Records and valuation of any real estate holdings
- A list of all physical property of value
- List and documentation of any employment benefits
- Documentation of retirement accounts, including 401Ks, etc.
- Documentation concerning other civil lawsuits that benefit OR cost either or both spouses
- Documentation of any loans or outstanding debts that benefit OR cost either or both spouses, including mortgages, credit cards, student loans, etc.
- Appraisal of any businesses owned by one or both spouses
- Tax documents from at least the past three years, including W-2s and 1099s
Your children are far more important than any property of physical valuables that may be divided between spouses. They do not require as much documentation as many other aspects of your life. However, it’s still important to make sure they are as up-to-date as possible.
- Name, date of birth, and documents proving these for each child had together
- Documentation of any custodial child savings plans, including CDs, college savings plans, etc.
It’s important to be prepared by asking yourself a few questions before you go into mediation. These include listing your priorities and goals in addition to your spouse’s. You’ll also need to consider outside forces that may impact your mediation.
- List your goals and determine how they may tie in with physical property. For example, if you want to continue working locally, then you may want to push to keep your home. If you commute, you will need a vehicle.
- Consider how your spouse’s goals may conflict with yours. Does your spouse want to sell your greatest assets in order to move? Do they need something specific in order to reach their goals?
- Look into local laws. These will heavily impact the results of your divorce.
When you go into mediation, make sure you have your documents and your goals ready. Knowing where you can compromise without harming your own goals, and where you may come into conflicts will save a lot of stress. Divorce may not be easy, but there’s no reason to make it more difficult than it has to be.