Divorce Mediation Checklist
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Step 1: FREE CONSULTATION
Finally, it will give you an opportunity to ask whatever questions you have. Since every couple’s circumstances differ, this meeting will give your mediator the opportunity to understand the types of issues involved in your particular situation so that he or she can give you a more accurate estimate of how long the process will take and how much it will cost.
Please be assured that this “get to know you meeting” is simply a way for you and your spouse to obtain more information about Divorce Mediation Professionals, and there is no cost or obligation of any kind on your part. We do require that the two of you attend this meeting together, since your mediator will be working with both of you throughout the entire process.
Please call Divorce Mediation Professionals to schedule a free consultation for you and your spouse at your convenience, either in the morning, afternoon or evening in one of our four offices.
Step 2: MEDIATION
- Information: Most couples going through their divorce are not fully familiar with all of the financial and legal aspects of their divorce. In fact, they commonly feel lost and somewhat adrift at sea. Your mediator will therefore insure that you have all of the necessary information you will need, which will be given to you both verbally and in writing, to assure that you have all of the resources necessary not only to make informed and intelligent decisions but also to understand the implications of those decisions.
- Respectful Environment: The mediation process employed by Divorce Mediation Professionals, and the setting in which your discussions will take place, is one designed to promote respectful and constructive discussions between the two of you, thereby facilitating your ability to conclude an agreement between yourselves.
- Constructive Discussions: One of the reason that it takes less time for a couple to conclude an agreement in divorce mediation than it does when they turn to adversarial divorce proceedings is that there is no wasted time in divorce mediation. Most of the things that divorce lawyers do (draft pleadings and other documents, make motions, appear in court to answer the calendar or ask for an adjournment) and most of the time that they expend doing those things, have little or nothing to do with the ultimate outcome. They are just part of the game of legal chess that divorce lawyers make of your divorce. When you turn to divorce mediation, you will spend your time constructively, addressing the problems which must be resolved. Moreover, since you will do that openly, directly and in an organized fashion, you will not only increase the likelihood that your discussions will prove successful but dramatically decrease the time that it will take the two of you to conclude an agreement.
- A Complete Agreement: Concluding an agreement with the help of Divorce Mediation Professionals will take much less time and therefore cost far less money than will be the case if you turn to adversarial divorce proceedings. However, that does not mean that divorce mediation is just “once over lightly”, and it would be a mistake to assume that. The two of you have very important matters to conclude. You therefore have a right to expect that they will be addressed and resolved in a professional manner. Divorce Mediation Professionals prides itself on the fact that it does this. Ironically, notwithstanding the savings in time and cost, you will be left with a more complete agreement if you employ our services than you will if you hire the most expensive divorce lawyers. That is because turning to adversarial legal proceedings will only leave you with half of an agreement, one which will address your problems today but completely ignore the ones that you will have tomorrow. The same is not true if you turn to Divorce Mediation Professionals. We pride ourselves that we will leave you with a complete agreement, not just half of one.
Step 3: SEPARATION AGREEMENT
A typical separation agreement will address:
- Custody and visitation of minor children
- Liabilities (credit card debt, car loans, responsibility for mortgage notes, home equity loans, promissory notes, pension loans, and all other debt)
- Personal property (house contents, vehicles, bank accounts, brokerage accounts, other investment accounts, stocks, stock options, bonds, etc.)
- Retirement benefits, including defined benefit plans (i.e. pensions), defined contribution plans (i.e. 401(k)), and other retirement plans
- Real property (sale, transfer, buyout or continued joint ownership of marital residence, investment properties, time-shares, vacation or other property)
- Child Support
- Spousal support
- College education expenses
- Medical insurance coverage
- Life insurance coverage
- Federal and state income taxes
Your separation agreement will provide you with the assurance that all important issues have been addressed and that there is nothing that has been overlooked or left out. Since we proceed on the assumption that a dispute between a couple who has separated and divorced is simply a question their agreement didn’t answer, we are concerned with the quality of your agreement – concerned that there is nothing of importance that has been forgotten or that it does not address. In fact, you should be left with a better agreement in divorce mediation than you will be should you to turn to adversarial divorce proceedings. That is because you are free to make a far more complete agreement for yourselves than a court is permitted to make for you. Thus, you will not be left with just half of an agreement – one that only looks to today, but does not make adequate provision for tomorrow – which is so often the case with agreements that are concluded through adversarial divorce proceedings.
Step 4: DIVORCE
As part of your agreement, one of you may agree to transfer his or her interest in your home (or in some other property) to the other. If that is the case, Divorce Mediation Professionals will prepare and record the deed and other real estate transfer documents necessary to accomplish this.
QUALIFIED DOMESTIC RELATIONS ORDERS
Commonly, a couple’s separation agreement will provide for one of the parties to share in the other’s retirement benefits (for example, a pension or 401(k) plan). In most cases, this will require a court order, which is referred to as a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or a “QDRO”. Again, Divorce Mediation Professionals will prepare the order, submit it to the court and ensure that it is processed to completion.
POST- AND PRE-NUPTIAL AGREEMENTS
Many couples, particularly in second marriages, wish to enter into an agreement making provision in the event of the termination of their marriage, either by death or divorce. This may be done either before or during their marriage. Divorce Mediation Professionals will assist the two of them to conclude such an agreement, prepare it and see to its execution.