10 Things You Need To Prepare For A Mediation
If you are separating from your spouse and decided to mediate your differences there are a number of things that you can do to ensure you are prepared for the mediation. When you arrive to a mediation prepared everyone will work more efficiently saving you time and money.
As always, each situation is unique to the individual and this list is not conclusive. However, this is a great starting point for everyone going through a separation and considering mediation; if you have any questions about your unique situation bring those up with your lawyer and/or mediator.
10 Things To Prepare For A Mediation
1. Ensure your tax information is up-to-date and available.
Typically for calculating spousal support and child support you will use your income from your last year's tax return. If you have this information available it will move this process along quickly.
2. Go to mysupportcalculator.com.
This one builds off of the last, if you have yours and your ex-spouse's tax information you will be able to go to the website to calculate a few different scenarios for child support and spousal support. Different scenarios could include different ways parenting time is shared between the two of you and how that might change the child support calculations. If you do not have their tax information, give it your best guess and print off a few scenarios anyway.
3. Get up-to-date assessments on your property and current information on investments and debts. If possible, have available any property assessments that might have been done during your relationship as well. If you are dividing property during this mediation, this information will be very useful.
4. Check out workshops in your area. Many areas in British Columbia offer Parenting After Separation courses. If your area does not offer in-person courses, there are online versions available. Check it out at the Justice Education Society website. Other useful workshop topics may include communication, conflict management, and respectful assertiveness training.
5. Learn what you can about the process.
While mediation has been around for a little while now, not many people are exactly familiar with the process, especially if you are new to it. If you take some time to research the methods, theories, and processes that form mediation you'll be much better prepared.
6. Choose the right mediator.
Many people have heard that if you are attending counseling, the client and the counselor need to "click" for the counseling to be beneficial to the client. While mediation is not a form of counseling, that principle is the same. Find a mediator that both you and your ex-spouse agree on. Whatever is important to you there is a mediator out there who will suit your needs, Mediate BC is a great place to find mediators in your area, or the Legal Services Society Lawyer Referral will be another place to find mediators.
7. Understand and be clear about your own needs and goals.
Taking some time to think about your needs and goals for this mediation will help you during the process. You will be able to focus the discussion better and keep things moving efficiently. Also, having this understanding will support you in ending the mediation if it is not supportive of your needs. The other side of this is to make a honest effort to understand your ex-spouse's needs and goals as well. Typically, that effort is reciprocated when noticed and supports a successful mediation.
8. Talk to your children about it. Regardless of their age the children will know something is changing and will need you to pay attention to that. How you talk about it with them will depend on their age, maturity, and the situation. You children do not need to know every detail about the mediation and you need to be honest with them. Listen to them, they will have questions, feelings, and concerns; mostly this needs to be heard and uninterrupted. Reassure them that their feelings are normal. Parenting After Separation workshops will go into more detail about this. Your mediator may also have resources with more information on ways to help your child through divorce.
9. Use your support network.
Talk to the people closest to you who will support you. Talk to others who may have also gone through a separation; even though each situation is unique it is helpful to have someone who understands. Discussing these things with people in your life will help you to keep your emotions under control during the mediation. While a mediation is not a sterile and emotionless environment, it is still a type of negotiation and having control over your emotions will support you through the process. It is important throughout the mediation process to acknowledge your emotions and be able to explain how the situation is affecting you, and it is also important to be able to clearly negotiate for your needs. Also, often Employee Assistance programs offered through your workplace may be able to provide many different kinds of support during this time.
10. Seek legal advice.
This one is bold because it is that important. The mediator is a neutral third party and will not advance your interests over those of the other party. In these situations it is important to have someone on your side.
Also, while the mediator is a knowledgeable and trained individual they can not provide any legal advice or information. A lawyer will be able to support you with information about the law that will not be readily available to you. You can use the Lawyer Referral Service to find a lawyer in your area or you can ask your mediator to point you in the right direction.
*Bonus* 11. Remember: "If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always got" - Mark Twain
This is a good opportunity to change your communication patterns with your ex-spouse. If you two have children together you are likely to be forming a different kind of relationship through separation rather than completely eliminating the relationship. To avoid placing the dysfunction that caused your separation onto your children, you will both need to work at creating a successful business-co-parenting relationship instead.
Comment below on some things that you found helpful to have prepared during your mediations or negotiations!