Coming to divorce mediation prepared will help you succeed in settling your divorce. The best way to prepare for mediation is to have a comprehensive list of all your assets and liabilities with supporting documents. Bringing the following items to mediation will help your mediator evaluate the issues in your case, and provide you and your spouse with guidance to help you craft a fair, clear and comprehensive marital settlement agreement.
1. A list of any agreements you and your spouse have already reached (like who is going to keep the house or family pet);
2. A list of all of your bank and investment accounts (, savings, checking, CDs, stocks, bonds, etc.);
3. Statements for all of your bank and investment accounts showing the balances in the accounts as of the date of marriage, the date of separation (date you and your spouse decided to divorce) and present;
4. A list of all of your retirement accounts for all current and former employers and individual accounts (, IRA(s), 401k(s), pensions, deferred compensation plans, etc.);
5. Statements for all of your retirement accounts showing the balances in the accounts as of the date of marriage, the date of separation (date you and your spouse decided to divorce) and present;
6. A list of real estate owned by you or your spouse with estimated values;
7. Mortgage statements and/or leases;
8. A list of vehicles and personal property, with appraisal or estimated values for any particularly valuable items;
9. Employment information: W2, paystubs, stocks, pension plans, any other benefits received;
10. Tax returns for the past three (3) years, including any tax returns for businesses owned by either party;
11. Health insurance information;
12. Life insurance policies, including statements of cash values for whole life policies;
13. Statements of all liabilities, including statements for credit cards, mortgages, student loans, auto loans, civil suits, etc.
The one thing you should not bring with you to divorce mediation is an expectation of what is “fair” or how things “should turn out.”
Frequently, one or both parties will have been misinformed by friends or relatives that have gone through a divorce or by something they read on the internet. Remember, no two cases are exactly the same, and the laws and customs are different from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Therefore, every divorce is different. That means coming to divorce mediation with an open mind.