Updated: Sep 6, 2022
So, you’ve decided on mediation to settle your divorce details. Or maybe you were court-ordered to mediate. Now the big question is, what do you need to do to make your mediation run as smoothly as possible? Remember that mediation is different from a trial. Your mediator is impartial and will work towards getting to what is best for both parties.
Organization is key:
Get all the information that will be important together. Financial information will be a major talking point. Knowing what your finances, taxes, retirement plans, real estate information, and joint property can help you find where you are willing to give or take. Don’t forget any debts that you may have incurred as a couple.
If you have children; child support, parenting times, life or health insurance, and future education plans are also major talking points. Getting your children’s school schedule, extracurricular information, and any savings for their future education together can help save time in negotiating.
Set some reasonable goals for yourself but prepare to change if new information comes up during the mediation. Make a folder of any documents that could come into question to bring with you. Plan a budget so you go in knowing how much you need, like living expenses car insurance, deductibles, etc.
Sometimes the best course of action is to write it all down by highest to lowest priority for you. What may be a high priority for you could be a low priority for your soon-to-be-ex-spouse.
And don’t forget to show up on time. Scouting out the location, parking situation, and route can help you make it there with less hassle. Going through a divorce is stressful enough without going to the wrong building on the day of mediation.
Major talking points:
Now that you have your documents (and yourself) organized and ready to mediate some major talking points to discuss are:
● What is a fair distribution of all the assets (and debts) between the two of you?
● Will alimony come into question?
● Who will get what out of a joint property?
● Are there any retirement plans or dividends that need to be divided?
● If there are children involved, what is the parenting plan?
● How will child custody be split?
● How much child support should be paid or will it be decided by Florida Statute 61.30?
● Is health insurance going to be provided by both parents? One parent?
● Who pays for uncovered medical and dental expenses, or if paying together how would you split it?
● How will future education and extracurriculars be split?
Things to think about:
● Mediation is confidential, but mediation is not therapy, business, or legal advice. Mediators are there to be a neutral party to your negotiations and help ease communications.
● Remember you are negotiating not arguing. It can be difficult to keep your emotions in check but that’s where remembering your priorities may help ground you to what a reasonable request may be. Be open to compromise.
● Try to find easy win-win agreements. Positive progress helps soothe everyone's nerves and makes the hard issues a little easier to deal with.
● Mediators will not force you into an agreement. If you can’t come to an agreement and were court-ordered to mediate, the mediator will inform the court that no agreement was made, and you will have those issues brought to trial. (Mediation confidentiality still applies in this situation.)
● Mediations can be short or a multiday affair, plan any work obligations or childcare accordingly in case of a mediation session runs long.
● If you find that you need to, you can speak to the mediator alone. Occasionally having each party speak to the mediator alone can help move the process along.
● Mediation is cheaper than going straight into litigation. The Florida Senate has found that mediation significantly reduces the number of trials and is more cost-efficient.
● At the end of the mediation, your agreement will be put in writing and signed. Meaning that it will be a binding contract. Make sure you have all your high-priority issues addressed before you finalize your agreement.
● Take care of your mental and physical health. Take breaks when you need to. If you are dealing with a high conflict person, remember EAR
○ Empathy: “I understand how important this is”
○ Attention: “Tell me what’s going on”
○ Respect: “I respect your commitment to solving this problem”
● But also, don’t make it personal. Mediation is here to make agreeing as fair and non-confrontational as possible. Being patient in this process and keeping an open mind can also help reduce the stress of mediating.
Don’t be afraid to do more research into the mediation process. Make yourself as comfortable as you can for this step into a major life change. State resources can be found at:
You are taking a major step into a new phase of life and mediation is here to try and make this transition as smooth as possible. At TriDialogue, years of experience can help you along with this difficult process. Feel free to call to get more information about mediation at 772-226-1712.