Many people assume if they are using the mediation method for divorce they don’t need to do anything other than show-up for the meeting. That assumption is incorrect.
Mediators cannot give you financial advice.
Mediators cannot give you legal advice.
Some mediators are better than others. Some mediators are attorneys with mediation training. Some mediators are counselors.
Here are 4 must haves before your divorce mediation appointment.
1- Prepare yourself for not getting 100% of what you want.
Mediation is finding a compromise between you and your soon to be ex-spouse. Spend time figuring out what your true minimum threshold is for each area you will be discussing.
For example if you haven’t been in the work force for several decades, you may want your spouse to pay 100% for your college degree or certification program. While that scenario will be your ideal situation, you may be okay if your spouse pays for no more than 4 years of your college degree (in case you decide to switch majors or it takes longer to attain your degree). If you think you may be able to receive a scholarship or grant, you may be okay if your spouse pays 75% of your college expenses. Work through different scenarios and know your minimum threshold.
2- Review your finances and KNOW what your lifestyle spending will look like post-divorce.
Yes, life does go on after a divorce. Work with a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA™) to calculate your post-divorce income and expenses. CDFAs™ have the necessary training and are qualified to review your full financial situation. Keep in mind tax implications, retirement savings and new entertainment expenses (travel, new hobbies, etc.).
3- Discuss “hot topics” in advance with your spouse.
Here’s your chance to figure out which items are nonnegotiable with your spouse. Use these items as leverage to get other items you may want. For example, you may decide not to touch your spouse’s business but in return you want x, y and z.
4- Consult with a family law attorney to review your strategy.
There are many family law attorneys. Look for one who has mediation training. An attorney who only handles litigation will not be helpful in reviewing your mediation strategy as they are not familiar with the mediation process.
Using the mediation method for divorce is an attractive option because information is not public, attorney fees are lower and there is greater flexibility in negotiating terms. However, before going to your divorce mediation appointment, make sure you are prepared with a strategy. Mediators cannot give you financial advice or legal advice. Mediation is a process. If you can’t make a decision at the meeting, ask to reconvene. Remember, you are making major decisions which will impact the rest of your life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Niv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA™, CRPC®, is the Founder of Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Her firm bridges the gap between financial planning and coaching. Life is more than money. It’s about living the lifestyle you want and can afford. For that reason, she offers consulting services in three areas: financial review, life strategy and professional progression. Her approach capitalizes on techniques she learned throughout her career, including as a management consultant in healthcare, executive recruiter and as a financial adviser. Her services include spending plan, financial plan, divorce financial review, life strategy and professional progression. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me’.”