Congratulations, you have made it to mediation stage in your family law case. For many, this is the step to final orders in your case. That is, if you have a successful mediation. There are a few things that you and your attorney can do to ensure this is the case for you.
(1) Many mediators send out a mediation packet to the attorneys/parties once the mediation is scheduled. This mediation packet should be taken seriously and completed to your utmost ability. It gives the mediator information about you, the other party, and the issues at hand as well as your stance on those issues. Some mediators go into more depth than others. The more that is addressed right off the bat, the better.
(2) If your case is a divorce with property issues, make sure you have at least a sworn inventory and appraisement from both sides so that you can make sure all of the property is addressed. To be more organized, you could make a spreadsheet of assets and debts, with a column for the ones you would like and the ones you would like for your spouse to have, as well as a column to check off whether or not the asset/debt is addressed in the mediation settlement agreement.
(3) Also, if dealing with the issue of child custody, it is important to make sure you have reviewed all of the possible rights/duties and injunctions that you could request. Again, have an organized list or excel spreadsheet of requests so that you can be sure you have addressed all of your concerns and that those which are agreed upon end up in the mediation settlement agreement.
(4) When making offers, do not make an offer that you know the other side is going to refuse right off of the bat. Mediation is not time for making ridiculous offers and wasting time–remember, you have a set deadline of when you must accomplish mediation or otherwise, you have to start preparing for trial. Compromise is key–you will have to be willing to give and take.
(5) Make sure you have you firm offer that you know is your bottom line, that way you know what you are not willing to cross and would be willing to go to trial over. With that in mind, when you meet with your attorney, discuss trial fees and what it would take to try your case. Many people realize that mediation is less expensive and less emotionally draining (although when you are in the trenches it may not seem like it) than actually going to trial. So, if you have one issue that you are going back and forth about, you do not want to spend thousands of dollars over that issue in trial–be creative and attempt to come up with a compromising resolution.
(6) The most important thing is to ensure that you have met with your attorney in advance and have a list of goals in mind. Be sure to go in with an open mind and positive attitude that you are going to be able to settle this case and move forward with your life.
Mediation is such an effective and positive tool in family law cases. There is a reason why many judges require it before you can even move forward with a trial setting. Contact your attorney at Guest & Gray, P.C. today to discuss your mediation options.