We get it. You are angry, frustrated, and tired of dealing with your former partner. You are not reaching a mutually acceptable and voluntary agreement. But you know what? You need to get focused and work on getting ready for Mediation. Whether it was requested by you, the other party, or by court order, mediation can be more beneficial than you think, saving you time, money and a lot of stress.

Let’s start by understanding that mediation is confidential and impartial. It will help both sides to find solutions reasonably without litigation and court battles. You will make your own decision in a legal agreement, knowing exactly what you and the other party have agreed to, avoiding a judge to make decisions for you, so you better be well prepared.

1. Get Legal Representation
Since a mediator cannot give you any legal advice or make decisions for you or the other party, you might need to find an attorney to represent you. An attorney will be able to answer all of the legal questions you may have regarding your whole case and advise you about the value of your case or what would be an acceptable settlement. With an attorney on your side, you can confidently make knowledgeable decisions when settling your case. Your attorney will be able to provide you with helpful information and assist you during the mediation. Your attorney can speak on your behalf at mediation or instruct you on what or what not to say. You can attend mediation alone, however, if you have hired an attorney the attorney should attend mediation with you.

2. Get Organized, Come Prepared
Collect all of the information and critical documents you have such as bank statements, retirement or other asset account statements, credit card or other debt statements, credit reports, health/ medical/ dental insurance expenses, income information, etc. and organize them. Prior to your scheduled mediation sessions, you and your attorney will need to determine the existence and value of marital assets and liabilities and maybe make a list of how best to divide them. If you have children, think about time-sharing and parental responsibility issues. If feasible, prepare a workable time-sharing schedule ahead of time. This will help the mediator move the case at your scheduled mediation. If necessary, create your own list of events in the order in which they occurred and share them with the mediator if you feel it would help to settle your case. Always remember, mediation is a confidential process and the mediator will not share any information with the other party if you do not want to.

3. Understand the Dispute with an Open Mind
Make sure you keep your side of the story straight in your head. Have your issues written down and organize it in order of importance, from the most important to the least important issue. Also, that information in mind, try to do the same with the other party’s issues. As you may have realized by now, some issues that are important to you maybe not important at all to the other party. However, having all potential issues written down in an organized fashion will make negotiating easier because you will have an idea of the matters you and the other party are willing to compromise or not. Keep your emotions out of the room and be prepared to talk to the other party effectively. As always, stay professional and do not engage in name-calling. Mediation is the time to resolve the dispute. Mediation is not a psychological therapy session. Even if you have had problems communicating in the past, the mediator is there to help both sides understand the dispute by making you see the conflict from each other’s perspective. Being able to compromise with an open mind. This will produce better results than taking your case to trial.

4. Establish Your Goals
Having a clear idea of the matters that you and the other party are willing to compromise will help you establish realistic goals. So, think about what you need to do – give or take – to resolve your case. While establishing “your” realistic goals, keep in mind that you also need to be flexible, because at mediation you may learn new things or receive new information that could influence your decision-making ability or even change your mind. So be ready to negotiate.

5. Arrive on Time
Although it may sound like a piece of foolish advice, arrive with plenty of time to deal with the unpredictable. Consider traffic, parking, in some public buildings it may be difficult to park. Also, consider any type of security regulations in the place you are set for mediation. In some cases, you may have to pay fees before starting your mediation session. You must arrive on time.

Mediation is an important option in the divorce or child custody process that Seff & Capizzi Law Group takes seriously.  At Seff & Capizzi Law Group, we regularly assist clients and provide valuable information for those that need assistance in understanding how to approach this particular situation in their own lives.  If you think that mediation is an option you would like to pursue, please call us at (954) 920-9220. We have over 40 years of experience and offer a free consultation. Click here for more information about our family law practice and how Seff & Capizzi can help.