Mediating your divorce action is an opportunity to try and settle your case without going to trial. However, to be successful, you must be well prepared for the mediation. The following are eight action steps you can take in advance of the mediation to help make your mediation a positive experience:
- Gather all necessary information to give to your attorney regarding your finances. This includes current pay stub, tax returns, W-2s, debt amounts (current mortgage statements, credit card statement for at least six months prior to the petition for dissolution through the current time), current bank records, pension and retirement plan balances, and asset values (such as home appraisals and values of vehicles). If child support is an issue, provide your lawyer with the information on the cost to insure the children for health insurance, and any costs incurred for day care, private school and extra-curricular activities.
- Fill out an Affidavit of Financial Information provided by your attorney. The Affidavit of Financial Information attempts to capture the expenses you will have after the divorce to determine what you need for spousal maintenance if you are asking for spousal maintenance or what you can afford to pay for spousal maintenance if your spouse is requesting support.
- If you need health insurance after the divorce because you are currently covered by your spouse’s insurance, check with an insurance agent to determine the cost of insurance and, if you are currently under medical care, whether your current doctors are covered by the new insurance you intend to obtain.
- If you and your spouse have life insurance, provide copies of any statements showing the type of insurance you have and the cash surrender, if any.
- Prepare an inventory list of all items of personal property, including furniture, furnishings, antiques, artwork, jewelry and similar items together with your estimate of current value. Remember used furniture is usually not worth very much so do not use the price you paid for the item but the price you would be able to sell the item in its current condition.
- Identify all vehicles, recreational vehicles, motorcycles, boats, and ATVs and approximate value based on the condition of the vehicle. You can find values at www.kbb.com.
- Prepare a list of topics of concern. Your lawyer can assist you in understanding your rights under the law so that you can have realistic expectations for the outcome of negotiations.
- Bring a positive attitude, a listening ear, and an open mind. Come with the attitude that your case will settle. Be willing to listen to the information provided by the mediator, and then to share your position. Resist the urge to interpret everything in a negative light.
Few cases settle without each side demonstrating flexibility and a willingness to compromise. Most cases settle when the parties are able to bring these qualities to the process.
About the Authors:
Marlene Pontrelli is a Member in our Phoenix office. Marlene is a certified specialist in family law. Her practice focuses on all aspects of family law including dissolution, post-dissolution, paternity, child custody and child support matters. She is admitted to practice in California and Arizona. She is a member of the State Bar’s Family Law Practice and Procedure Committee and is a judge pro tem for the Superior Court of Maricopa County in family law. She has extensive trial and appellate experience including appearing before the Arizona Court of Appeals, Arizona Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Ms. Pontrelli has written several books, including as a co-author of the Divorce in Arizona book. She is a frequent lecturer in the area of family law and has conducted workshops throughout the country. Ms. Pontrelli is also an adjunct professor at The Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law at Arizona State University, where she teaches the family law class. Marlene may be reached in our Phoenix office at 602-285-5081.
Bob Schwartz is a Member in our Phoenix office. Bob has been practicing law for over 40 years, specializing in family law. He is a member of the American, Arizona and Maricopa County Bar Associations. He is admitted to practice in the federal courts of New York, Arizona, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Mr. Schwartz is a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and past president of the Arizona chapter. He serves as a judge pro tem for the Superior Court of Maricopa County in family court matters. He is a certified family law specialist by the State Bar of Arizona; is a frequent lecturer on family law and related matters; and, former member of the State Bar Family Law Advisory Commission. Mr. Schwartz has tried numerous complex business valuation cases as well as complex custody cases. He has testified as an expert in family law matters. Bob co-authored the Divorce in Arizona book. He may be reached in our Phoenix office at 602-285-5020.