With all of the homework completed and information gathered, we move to discussions about your divorce. This is where we do most “mediation” as we work to resolve conflicts and come to joint agreements. Many times this step is most effective and best accomplished in one long session, 6-8 hours, however it can be broken into 2 or 3 smaller session if necessary.
If you are the spouse who has not initiated the divorce, you may still be feeling like you want to slow the process and those are normal feelings. We want you to know you are in a safe place of discussion and transparency and moving through the mediation process in one day can actually be quite helpful as you are not drawing out the pain of the process. At any time, you may call a “caucus” with the Mediator at if you have something to discuss without the pressure of the other spouse in the room. It is our job to make sure that both parties and making agreements and concessions that they will be able to meet in the future.
We can help you recognize and understand how to make the right decisions. And we will give you the tools to be able to live up to those agreements.
The Mediator will educate both parties on the various components that must be discussed in the divorce. At this stage, the more thorough your homework, the more efficient the process will be.
We will provide communications coaching to both spouses so the process can remain dignified and fair. Each spouse will exhibit different communication behaviors that can sabotage the process or themselves and your Mediator will help mitigate these behaviors.
a) Decision making authority when it comes to children:
You are the parents of your children and know how best to manage your family. We will expose myths about custody labels and help you keep control of the parenting plan, without 3rd party intervention, such as a Judge or lawyer.
b) Parenting time:
Your Mediator will assist you in developing a workable plan that includes many of the following:
- Monthly schedules, transportation and transfers from home to home.
- Holiday agreements
- Changes to the plan if one spouse moves
- Parenting behaviors and expectations, rights of passage
- How parties will relate to each other, communication agreements
- Extended Family
- Health insurance and ongoing health care
- School involvement, homework, grades, parent teacher conferences
- Sports events, recitals, performances
You will be able to customize various aspects of this plan to meet your values as a family. Your Mediator will show you how to manage this with shared calendars and other tools.
Parties should understand that your parenting plan will evolve as your children grow and when done properly, triggers will be identified and changes to the plan will already be designed to meet the best interest of their children.
c) Financial needs of children:
Your Mediator will cover all the dynamics of child support, i.e. what it covers, how it is calculated, and items that are not covered. All extracurricular expenses will be discussed and outlined for both parents to follow. Your Mediator will also provide advice on non-child support items like health insurance, day care, and school tuition. You will develop a plan that include safeguards like life insurance and disability, protecting your children with financial assistance in any situation.
Parents have the opportunities to put plans in place for expenses for children after 18 years of age, such as college tuition, a mission, weddings and other life events. You will be able to add language covering tax deduction and triggers if a spouse has a substantial change in income.
d) Debts and assets:
With much of the information you provided in the homework phase, your Mediator will educate you on the many different ways to splits debts and assets, including the marital home. We will help you understand and identify what is a marital asset, tax consequences, selling and refinancing the marital home and pros and cons for every decision you will be making. Our job is to help you make the right decisions with valuable information.
e) Spousal support:
After completing the division of debts and assets, we move into spousal support and your Mediator will provide information on the different types of spousal support. A variety of factors come into consideration when determining spousal support, such as how long, how much, what are the different calculations and tax implications.
During this session we will also cover 401K accounts, IRAs, pension and inheritance. The Mediator will help both parties feel well educated on all the financial aspects of the divorce and be able to make good decisions for the family. Most importantly, we are having these sensitive conversations in a transparent environment to remove any paranoia.