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If you have chosen mediation for your divorce, come prepared

Many divorcing couples see the advantages of mediation over litigation, and you may be among them.

The mediation process will not take as long as a traditional court proceeding. To make this divorce option even faster and more streamlined, here are four tips to ensure you are well-prepared going in.

1. Discuss mediation with your spouse

The focus of mediation is on cooperation. Therefore, you should discuss options with your soon-to-be-ex and make sure you are both in agreement.

2. Set your terms

What do you want out of the divorce? Property settlement will be a big part of the mediation process, and what you want versus what you actually need may create sticking points. Preparation includes making a list of your possessions, both separate and marital. Include real property, vehicles, furniture, jewelry and other valuables, such as an art collection, bank accounts, retirement accounts, investments, credit cards, insurance policies—anything you can think of. This is one major area where guidance from your mediator will help you and the other party work out a satisfactory settlement.

3. Put together your financial affidavit

Many courts require divorcing couples to present financial affidavits. They become the groundwork for the dissolution of your marriage. Bring all your financial information into mediation. List your sources of income and your expenses. More than just a list of assets, a financial affidavit is concise. Because it is a sworn document, it must be entirely truthful and transparent.

4. Reduce the impact on your children

Mediation involves discussions about child custody, support and a parenting plan. As you approach the process, talk to your children and explain what will happen. Studies show that mediation is a much less stressful divorce option for children. As a parent, you naturally want what is best for them.

Going forward

Mediation is a faster and less expensive way to end your marriage as compared with litigation. There is nothing easy about divorce, but coming well-prepared helps enormously. Many couples find mediation the best choice in terms of respectful cooperation and stress reduction. It also paves the way for maintaining comfortable familial relationships going forward.

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