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Preparing for the divorce mediation process

Making the decision to divorce can be painful, emotional and challenging. While you both may decide that going your separate ways will be beneficial for each of you, the process to divide your household and move forward can be complex.

For divorcing Ohio couples, mediation poses an alternative to the contentious route of traditional litigation. In mediation, the two of you work together with a mediator to address and resolve key issues. With its collaborative nature, mediation has the potential to produce a more amicable divorce and give both parties more control over the outcome. When facing divorce mediation, how should you prepare for the process?

Understand the process to come

To proceed with mediation, you and your spouse must both agree to the process. After this, you will both choose a mediator, or third-party, neutral professional, to facilitate the discussion.

While the first meeting may include identifying issues to address, subsequent sessions will include discussions to ultimately reach a mutual agreement. Upon reaching an agreement, the mediator will draft an agreement for review by you, your ex and any attorneys involved. However, know that should you and your spouse be unable to reach an agreement, the mediator cannot force a compromise.

Identify your goals

Set some goals for yourself. What is important to you? Do you want a fair custody agreement that protects your parent-child relationship? Do you want to stay in your marital home? Do you want to protect your retirement savings? Identify these goals early to sort your priorities and negotiate accordingly.

Get organized

First, make a list of all your assets, both marital and separate. This should include real estate like your marital home, bank accounts, retirement funds, stock, vehicles, important valuables and more.

Then, record the balances of your bank accounts and retirement funds, as well as the balances and regular payments for all debts like mortgage payments, credit card or student loan balances and more. Organizing this information and bringing necessary supporting documents can aid in moving past the first meeting and into the negotiations.

Consider talking with an attorney

While mediation does not always involve attorneys, discussing your situation with an attorney can be helpful. Going through a divorce can be emotional, even while attempting to collaboratively resolve issues. Consult with an attorney to determine your rights, learn more of the process to come and advocate for your long-term interests.

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