Making a Divorce Mediation Checklist
When you and your spouse decide to use divorce mediation to settle the dissolution of your marriage, you are choosing an approach that can be a lot simpler and less stressful than traditional courtroom litigation. According to Chicago Divorce Mediation Service SplitSimple Inc., it is important that you come into your divorce mediation hearing as prepared as possible so that you can get what you want and need out of your divorce settlement. This approach enables you to move on with your life.
Here's a handy checklist of all the things you and your soon-to-be former spouse will need to consider prior to your divorce mediation sessions, so that the process can be smooth, quick and relatively painless.
Child Custody Arrangements:
If you and your spouse have children, you will need to decide legal and physical custody arrangements that are in their best interest. Keep in mind that this part of divorce mediation is the most crucial to the wellbeing of your children, and try to keep emotion and spite out of your dealings with one another. When you are making custody arrangements, you need to work out the details of both legal and physical custody of your children.
Legal custody refers to which parent is the legal decision maker for major parenting issues such as education, religion and healthcare, including surgery. Physical custody refers to the schedule that dictates which parent spends time with the children, and on which days and times. Depending upon your willingness to work with one another, as well as whether both parents are able to properly care for the children, your custody arrangements may be just about equal, or one parent may end up caring for the children nearly full-time, while the other is granted only limited visitation access. Needless to say, the arrangement of child custody must benefit the children first and foremost, and give them a strong foundation during what can prove to be a stressful and traumatic time for the whole family.
If you and your soon-to-be ex find it nearly impossible to even be in the same room as one another, communication can quickly become strained and difficult. This is especially problematic if you have children about whom you may need to communicate. It is crucial that you decide on a form of communication that is acceptable to both of you, be it via telephone, email or in person. Try to choose a main form of communication that will minimize the chances of argument or anger, and keep in mind that discussing key matters with one another is an important and necessary part of the divorce mediation process.
Spousal Support/ Child Support Arrangements:
If one spouse doesn't work outside the home, arrangements may need to be made for the other spouse to provide financial support following your divorce. Expenses for housing, transportation, necessities such as groceries, healthcare and education must be considered as you agree on spousal support terms and conditions. If you have children, you need to agree on a fair amount to be paid to the parent with legal custody each month for child support. Make sure to list any and all expenses that must be covered in order to determine a fair amount, and make considerations for future expenses, such as college or braces, which will require additional child support down the road.
Equitable Division of Property:
You must first determine the value of any assets you have, including property, vehicles, stocks, bonds, inheritances, and any savings or pension accounts you have. You must also take into consideration all of your expenses, including mortgage, auto loan payments, student loan payments (either for yourself or for your children), consumer debt such as credit cards, or a business. By equally distributing the responsibility of the expenses as well as dividing the assets, you and your soon-to-be former spouse can save a lot of time and hassle during the divorce mediation process.
If the spouse who is moving out of the family home needs financial assistance paying for moving expenses, this should be considered and factored into your divorce settlement. Also, you must decide who is responsible for legal expenses surrounding the divorce mediation, as well as any additional expenses that are directly related to the divorce. Try to come up with an acceptable method for dealing with future disputes, and do your best to stick to the agreement so that future litigation or further mediation is not necessary.
Going through a divorce can be one of the hardest things you have to do in your life, but with some compromise and a firm understanding of what you each need, you can get through the divorce mediation process as quickly and simply as possible, so you can begin your next chapter of life.