Even if you’re looking forward to getting your divorce in motion, it’s normal to be a bit apprehensive about your upcoming mediation session. Most people have never been in a mediation session before, and the lack of familiarity alone is enough to make anybody anxious.
Here are some of the most practical things you can do to prepare for your first divorce mediation session:
1. Give yourself plenty of time
Do not schedule your first mediation session at a date or time that will force you to be in a rush. If you’re worried about getting out of there on time to pick up the kids or make another appointment, your attention won’t be where it needs to be.
2. Realize that you don’t have to commit
No matter what the mediator or your spouse suggests (or wants), you can take your time to think about a decision. If you aren’t comfortable making a commitment to any specific agreement, just say you need a little while to think things over. Mediation is not a one-shot deal. It may take a few visits to work out a good plan for your family.
3. Leave your personal issues at home
Think of this meeting as a business meeting, nothing more. Your spouse is simply another business person whose goals may or may not align with yours. That may help you shelve your personal feelings about your spouse and your relationship in order to focus on the business at hand.
4. Gather all your financial documents
Financial decisions are often a big part of any divorce mediation process, so come prepared to back up whatever you are claiming. If you need more child support, for example, than your spouse wants to pay, bring along the receipts or bills for your childcare, tutoring, clothes, medical bills and other child-related expenses.
5. Make a list of what you want and need
Writing down your list of wants and needs can help you identify what you feel you must have and what you are willing to compromise on. Compromise is an important part of mediation — but you won’t be happy unless you understand your own internal boundaries.
It’s important to understand your legal position prior to entering divorce mediation in order to negotiate well. Make sure that you talk to an experienced attorney about your rights before you start.