Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Client Checklist for Divorce Mediation

It can be nerve-wracking to walk into a mediator's office to start your divorce mediation and not know what's going to happen. We like to remind our clients that nothing happens in mediation without both parties agreeing to it. In your case, your mediator will likely provide you with some kind of overview of what to expect in your case - sometimes that's a broad overview of the divorce case and other times it's a very specific agenda of what will be discussed in the first mediation. The following is a basic client checklist that may help get you thinking about the issues that will come up and need to be discussed with your spouse as you work together to reach agreements on all of the issues related to your divorce.
  1. Court Case: File/serve Petition and start 6 month waiting period; discuss what it means to have a pending divorce or legal separation case.
  2. Create plan for living arrangements with transition plan if needed.
  3. Custody/Parenting: Issues include physical custody; legal custody; weekly schedule; holidays and special days; co-parenting issues such as communication, childcare issues, new partners, travel/moving, etc.
  4. Child Support (monthly and bonus/commission true-ups) and additional expenses for children outside of base child support (health insurance, medical expenses, travel expenses, extra-curricular activities, life insurance, college expenses, etc.).
  5. Spousal Support (temporary support; long-term support; tax issues).
  6. Spousal health insurance.
  7. Assets and debts: Identify (via formal financial disclosure requirements to be discussed) and divide/allocate between spouses including logistics and related issues (house sale issues, household items, vehicles, bank accounts, investments, retirement transfer issues, stock and option vesting issues, business issues, etc.).
  8. Tax issues regarding settlement, support, future tax filing related to dependents.
  9. How to share/allocate mediation fees, separate attorneys’ fees and fees of other professionals.
  10. Estate planning issues (existing plans; new plans; issues regarding children).
  11. Resolution of future disputes including options for co-parenting, mediation, private judge.

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