Divorce Mediation Checklist: 4 Best Tips
Mediation in divorce can be an emotionally taxing time. Depending on how your relationship ended, sitting in a room and discussing who gets what or if you need to sell the home that you love may not sound ideal. You don't want to lose everything, but you don't want to go out of your way to punish your former spouse - even if you may think that's getting even. You know it's time to cut your ties and move on, but how do you get through divorce meditation?
How can you make your mediation successful even in what feels like the worst scenario? This article will provide you with four of the best tips you need to have on your divorce mediation checklist .
This article is intended for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for legal advice. If you need legal advice on divorce mediation in Washington state, The Offices of Alesha Struthers offers free initial consultations.
What Is Mediation in Divorce?
Divorce mediation is when a third-party attempts to broker an agreement between both spouses during the divorce process. In amicable divorces, mediation in divorce is generally easier to complete.
However, that's not always the case. An uncontested divorce in Washington state may turn contested at any moment and for any reason. The divorce mediator may need to use various techniques to achieve agreements. Washington state does not require mediation in divorce . However, some counties, like Snohomish and King counties, require alternate dispute resolution. This is usually mediation.
What Happens in Divorce Mediation?
You and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse will sit in a room with a neutral third-party and try to agree on who gets what and how things will be separated in the divorce settlement.
During some mediation matters, spouses may need or prefer to be in separate rooms. This is an available option. The mediator would travel back and forth through the two separate rooms to oversee the negotiation when this occurs. This is called the "If you have a history of domestic violence in your marriage, you can request to waive divorce mediation.
Once an agreement is made, you and your former spouse will sign the settlement agreement. It will be filed for the judge to approve. If the judge approves it, it will be signed into an order.
If you and your spouse cannot agree, the judge will decide how all assets and debts will be split in the divorce. Once your divorce is finalized, these agreements will be set in action. Unfortunately, if the judge makes the decision regarding the assets and debts, you and your former spouse will most likely not be pleased in many aspects of the decision-making. It is often best for both of you to work hard during divorce mediation to make as many settlements as you can so that each of you at least get some of what you want.
So, what items should be on your? We put together our four best tips to help you prepare for divorce mediation in Washington state.
Know What You Need to Bring During Divorce Mediation
You need to bring several documents to present during the divorce mediation. They include the following:
Documents that prove your financial standing, including your debts. Be prepared to bring all proof of your financial standing with you. This includes documents such as the last two years of tax returns, recent pay stubs, bank account information for all bank accounts, proof of all owned assets, and proof of all debts. You will need to show proof of any IRAs and inheritances as well. To learn more about marital and communal property and how it could impact you, schedule your free initial consultation with The Law Offices of Alesha Struthers.
These items of proof are required because you and your spouse must fairly separate all marital and communal assets and debts. Proof of inheritance is essential to show that inherited assets are not communal property.
Be mentally prepared to attend divorce mediation. During mediation, you'll be in the same room with your former spouse to determine what to do with assets, debts, and even a parenting plan if you have children together. You are literally in that room to attempt to complete a business deal. Nothing more. To accomplish this, you must separate any emotions you may have for or even against your former spouse. Plan to be open-minded and make fair agreements.
Keep in mind the unofficial rules of engagement to help keep you in a business mindset. Make reasonable offers. Don't be too selfish or make offers to intentionally hurt your former spouse. Don't give in to just end the negotiations, either. Keep a level head, and make decisive moves by keeping your emotions in check.
Consider legal representation for divorce mediation? You are not required to have an attorney during mediation. However, you may want to consider doing so. It is not unusual to have your attorney present to counsel you on making effective offers and counteroffers. Having your attorney present can also take some of the edge off and bring you some form of comfort during negotiations. Emotions can get out of control quickly during mediation.
As mentioned before, you can request not to be in the same room as your former spouse during the mediation process. Mediation is still possible even if you have a protection order against your ex. If you have a protection order against your ex, having your attorney with you could make you feel safer as well.
Be aware that if your former spouse brings a lawyer and you do not, their lawyer may attempt to be friendly and manipulate you into giving in when you shouldn't. It's best not to listen to them. They cannot give you legal advice. If you wish to have someone give you legal advice, bring an attorney with you.
Know what to ask for in divorce mediation. If your former spouse was the only one who worked during the marriage, you might be able to receive spousal support. Spousal support may help support you during the divorce process so you can achieve independence. Don't be afraid to advocate for your needs, but also plan to agree to give up certain things.
Make sure you are clear on what it would mean if you kept the house. Would you be required to buy out your former spouse's half of the equity to keep the home? Would you need to trade assets for your former spouse's half of the home equity? Determine what is feasible for you to financially maintain once the divorce is settled. Make sure you also have proof of assets that you assert are not communal property. An attorney may be able to help you make sure they are protected.
You could put together your own idea of a divorce mediation checklist listing items you don't want to forget to mention, as well as ideas of how you'd like to separate assets. Think of divorce mediation as a business transaction. Make power moves for a fair settlement. Your family law attorney can help with these power-move choices.
Divorce Mediation Checklist: Hire a Family Law Attorney
Divorce mediation can be a trying and confusing time. You may have a difficult time dealing with someone who just broke your heart and turned your entire life upside down. You may be in fear of your former spouse.
A family law attorney on your side can help you make clear and fair decisions for your divorce mediation . The Law Offices of Alesha Struthers offers both representation and mediation services. For your free initial consultation, schedule with The Law Offices of Alesha Struthers now.
Disclaimer: This publication is not legal advice. It is intended as legal information only. For legal advice specific to your needs, contact the Law Offices of Alesha Struthers, PS at 800-972-0411.
Posted June 2022.