Divorce mediation is a very viable alternative for getting a divorce.
There are some areas of discussion that are very common during the process of reaching a divorce settlement agreement.
Care of the children is your most important concern. If custody is shared, what are the terms? If it is not, what is the visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent? Don’t forget holidays and summer vacations.
Who will retain the family home? Will the martial home be sold and equity split equally? Or will one party keep the house and buy the other out? (In my own divorce I kept the family home. I waived alimony payments in exchange for equity in my home. Alimony is taxable but the equity in your home is not, so keep this option in mind)
3. Alimony and child support.
How much will go to whom?
Who will pay for school tuition? Will he pay for private or public universities? Might issues regarding paying for tuition become an issue later? Don’t rely on oral promises, ”Of course I will pay for college!” is often said at mediation but not committed to writing. Unfortunately, in most jurisdictions, once a child is 18, there is nothing the Court can do to force a parent to pay for college.
5. Division of stocks, bonds and other investments.
What is the proper division/liquidation of stocks, bonds, bank accounts, and other holdings and investments? What about the 401K plans, retirement funds, and life insurance? How will this be divided? A minimum amount of life insurance should be a provision of every divorce settlement, without exception.
6. Marital debt.
Who borrowed what? Who charged what?
7. Determination of incomes.
Who made more money? Who contributed what, and what are the values of those contributions?
Will you have wills drawn naming the children as the beneficiaries?
9. Health insurance.
How will health insurance be addressed?
If you are going into mediation, remember that every aspect of your financial life with your spouse has to be closely scrutinized. These will be weighed in terms of your lifestyle and your standards of living, both together and apart. You will need to itemize all household expenses, household contents, properties, bank accounts, retirement plans, vehicles, furniture, and other items of value. Make sure you take into account all childcare costs, including daycare, religious education, sports, and other after-school activities and lessons. Consider the cost of birthday parties attended, lunch money, school dues, clothing, and camp. If your children are young, adjust for expenses as they grow, and include those projections in your plan.
It’s best for you and your spouse to gather all of this information beforehand; doing this together can be useful. If you find yourselves disagreeing on something, set it aside. Agree to bring up all disputes only when you are with the mediator. If you can do this, then mediation might be the route for you. If you have problems with your spouse while gathering information, it may be a sign of bad times ahead.