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What are good steps to take to prepare for mediation?

The process of mediation as it applies to divorce and other family law issues is one that is still developing in many ways. In the view of many, use of mediation has a number of possible advantages. Perhaps chief among them is that those who choose to use it have a chance to maintain greater control over the proceedings. Those who commit to mediation can work to resolve their issues themselves.

Obviously, mediation in any context is not for everyone. It presumes that all the parties involved are prepared to work at least collaborative if not cooperatively and voluntarily, to come to terms that everyone considers fair. They don't do this alone. A neutral third party prepared to foster communication between parties is an essential part of the equation.

Preparing for mediation

The role of the mediator is to create the environment in which disputants, and potentially their attorneys, to lay out their concerns for discussion. The mediator has the opportunity to facilitate positive interaction by ensuring that any documents, legal forms or other materials that might help achieve agreement are at hand. However, the parties contribute to the effort as well by coming prepared.

The list of recommended actions includes:

  • Preparing to be available for the time required:
    • Contact the court's mediation services office to learn how long the processes may take.
  • Determine which forms and documents will be needed and whether you should provide any of them:
    • Plan for an exchange of documents by the parties ahead of time to make the session most productive.
  • Inform the mediator of any concerns about possible violence from another party.
  • If you plan to have an attorney with you, speak to him or her before the mediation date:
    • Identify objectives
    • Determine how possible offers from the other party will be assessed
    • Anticipate possible demands from the other side
    • Analyze your case's strengths and/or weaknesses
    • Realistically assess implications if the matter goes to trial

Mediation can hold the potential for lower cost resolution of cases with more personal control. If the matter does go to trial, a judge or jury decides the outcome. 

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