Once you and your spouse have decided to call it “quits,” you most likely want to get the whole divorce process over quickly. Mediation can help move things along, but it can still take a bit of time. Luckily, there is more you can do to help speed up the divorce mediation process. Keep reading for some expert advice.
Sandra Radna from Law Offices of Sandra M. Radna P.C.
Follow These Tips
Mediation is typically accomplished over a number of sessions. It can take a longer or shorter amount of time, depending on a number of factors. Most commonly, the delay in the completion of the mediation is due to the mediator waiting for information from the clients. To make the process quicker and smoother:
1. Be Organized. Have your paperwork for presentation to the mediator in an organized manner. Tax returns and other financial documents should be organized and presented in chronological order and separated by account for review by the mediator.
2. Know Your Objectives. Before meeting with the mediator, decide on your best-case scenario regarding custody of the children, financial support, and division of marital assets.
3. Be Flexible. [In order] to reach an agreed-upon solution, [be flexible]. You may not get 100% of what you want, so [you should] have an idea of what you are and are not willing to negotiate.
4. Be Responsive. If the mediator requests information, ask when it is due, and then stick to the deadline. If you are unable to, let the mediator know. The sooner you provide information, the quicker you will be done.
Jennifer L. Young
Jennifer L. Young is a trained and court-approved family-court mediator at Dughi, Hewit & Domalewski – Premier NJ Law Firm.
Come With the Intent to Settle
The timing of the divorce mediation process is up to each party. The purpose of mediation is for the parties to enter a resolution they can each live with.
If one party goes into mediation expecting to “win,” mediation is going to fail. Conversely, when parties come to mediation with the intention to settle, mediation can be extremely productive and result in an expeditious resolution.
Often the process will only take as long as necessary for each party to obtain whatever missing information they may need to come to a resolution and identify the many common goals they have for such a resolution.
Doug Noll is a lawyer and professional mediator at Noll Associates.
Prepare and Be Civil
Divorce mediations are generally conducted in shorter sessions than general mediations. The average mediation might extend over 4-8 sessions of about two hours each. The length of the process depends on these factors:
1. The Degree Of Animosity Between The Parties.
2. How Prepared Each Party Is To Discuss The Main Issues Of The Mediation. [These] include identifying, valuing, [and] splitting the marital assets and liabilities, spousal support, parenting planning, and child support.
The more prepared both sides are, the faster the process. A power imbalance caused by one party not fully disclosing financial information can slow down the process considerably. Likewise, the process will take longer if the parties are strongly emotional.
Sarah Jacobs is a Co-founder of Jacobs Berger, LLC, a boutique divorce and family law firm in Morristown, New Jersey.
While mediation can be faster than traditional “litigation,” clients often want to know how to make the mediation process move even faster than it normally does. The bad news? It still may be slower than you want. The good news? There are things to do to make it more efficient.
The best way to help your mediator know the facts of your case is to provide them with the information. Gather all the documents that might be necessary for the mediator to have.
Find your pay stubs, tax returns, bank statements, retirement account statements, life insurance policies, credit card statements, etc. Don’t forget all your plan documents for your insurance, retirement accounts, pensions, etc.
Having them handy when questions arise makes all the difference.
Know Your Numbers
Fill out a Case Information Statement, Net Worth Statement, or whatever financial document is required by your state as part of the divorce process. List your expenses on a monthly basis. Outline your assets (and what they are worth), your liabilities (how much you owe and to whom), and your incomes (think about bonuses, commissions, overtime, etc.).
Do Your Homework
Try to do whatever is necessary before the mediation sessions or after each one to help move the process along faster. Are you unsure what your home is worth and need an appraisal? Contact a realtor (or two) and get them scheduled.
Are you unsure how much your pension might be worth today, and you’re thinking about trading that for another asset? Contact your pension company and have them do a valuation.
Unsure of how you will file your taxes, or what’s more financially beneficial? Talk to your accountant and find out the cost for running pro forma returns, and see if they can be done for you to discuss in mediation.
Have Difficult Conversations
If you’re in a position where you can talk with your spouse or co-parent about the difficult things, you may want to begin those conversations before mediation. Even just making an outline of the things you need to discuss with a mediator so you’re on the same page with topics can be helpful.
The key here is a productive conversation, though. Hostile words about unresolved issues leading to your divorce may actually set your timeline backward, so these conversations should be forward-facing and solution-oriented. They should be about the difficult topics (children, money, division of property). Simply assigning blame for why things went wrong won’t move you to the next step.
Find a Match
DO YOUR RESEARCH! When you’re looking for mediators to help you, make sure you’re not only focused on credentials but that you’re focused on whether you and your spouse feel that the person behind the credentials is a good match for you.
Do they respond timely? Do they talk to you together, separately, or both? Do they communicate in person via Zoom, or [do they] want the majority in wiring? Do you feel that they foster an environment where communication and compromise are possible?
You can do all of the steps listed above, but if the person you select to help you isn’t creating an environment in which you and your spouse feel comfortable, you’re going nowhere fast. The best way to ensure mediation moves quickly is to have faith in the mediator’s abilities to help you both.
If you do all of the above, while the process may still produce some stress, you’ve gone a long way to alleviating the stops and starts along the way and the farther along you’ll be.
This is a crowdsourced article. Contributors’ statements do not necessarily reflect the opinion of this website, other people, businesses, or other contributors.
*This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice. If you require legal advice, please contact a licensed attorney in your local area.