If divorce is imminent, you may be hoping to keep the process as amicable and stress-free as possible. After all, you have likely gone through enough turmoil leading up to the decision to divorce, and you may be anticipating a struggle in the months following the breakup. This is where mediation can help by providing a more civil, peaceful separation wherein you and your spouse negotiate an agreement together with the help of a trained mediator.
Throughout the mediation process, you and your spouse should have your own lawyers to advise you on any legal issues and to ensure you arrive at a settlement that is in your best interests. Before you begin the process of divorce mediation, you will meet at least once in private with your California attorney. Your first meeting with your attorney will go much more smoothly if you are well prepared.
What you can accomplish in your first meeting
Meeting with a divorce attorney can be intimidating, but the more thought and preparation you put into that first meeting, the more confident you may feel. You will also certainly accomplish more in your limited time if you have done some reflecting on your situation, particularly on your goals for your finances and your children. Some of the questions you and your lawyer may address in your planning meeting include the following:
- What kind of parenting plan do you hope to achieve?
- What is the best living situation for your children?
- How will you and your spouse work out schedules for the kids' school days, extracurricular activities, vacations and days off, and time with friends?
- How will you and your spouse make important decisions about the children, such as education and medical care?
- What is the state of your finances now?
- What are your marital assets?
- What do you hope to achieve for your finances at the end of the process?
- What monthly expenses do you anticipate after your divorce, including rent or mortgage?
As you and your attorney work through these and other questions, you will begin to see how your attorney's personality and methods will affect your case. Reaching a level of comfort with him or her will help you fully participate in the mediation process with optimism about your future. It may also allow you to remain flexible as things change, which they often do during a divorce. If your attorney is a good fit for you, you will likely have a better chance for a more positive outcome.