Finding Your Way Using Divorce Mediation

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Find Your Way Using Divorce MediationWhen clients begin making decisions regarding ending their marriage, they often feel as if they are entering a deep, dark woods with no path, flashlight, or map.

Many express a wish that they could understand all of the things they need to discuss in order to prepare and not be surprised.

Divorce Mediation Leads the Way

On one hand, knowing everything that needs to be discussed is useful. On the other hand, I caution my clients not to try to figure out everything before we get started. Kitchen table conversations often end up emotional and scary. I encourage clients to think about things but not to negotiate anything. I explain that I am their guide in the woods, and that it is actually more efficient and gentler to let me help them navigate the discussion.

The following is a comprehensive list of items that need to be discussed so that the final Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is thorough and comprehensive. Keep in mind other issues often arise that are not listed here.

Parenting and Schedule

Telling the children about living separately
Children’s Bill of Rights When Parents Divorce
The daily parenting plan; when the day begins and ends
Timeline for living separately
Holidays: When do they begin and end and how celebrated
Vacation: How many and how selected
Sick days: How will the children be cared for
Hospitalization of child or parent: How it will be handled
Childcare: How to select
Transportation: How are the children transported
Introducing children to significant others

Legal Custody of Children

Joint custody vs shared custody vs sole custody
Designation of primary residential parent
Decision making: Which are joint decisions and which are made by each parent individually
Children’s birth certificates, passports, and other legal documents
Permission to travel with the children
Access to the children when not parenting
Expectations regarding religious traditions and customs
Death of either parent
Relocation of a parent
Surnames and parent designation of Mom and Dad
Pet custody and expenses

Child Support

Organizing Child Support in Divorce-Part 1
Organizing Child Support in Divorce-Part 2
New York State Child Support Guidelines
Proration: Percentage of income of each parent compared to total family income
When child support begins
How child support will be paid
Documentation of income
Self-employed parent versus a W-2 employee parent
Child care, health insurance, and uninsured medical expenses
Other expenses for kids such as extra-curricular expenses and milestone events
Pre-college private school costs: Tuition, room/board, books, other expenses
College-related costs: Tuition, room/board, books, other expenses
Frequency and circumstances for review/modification of child support

The House

Calculating equity
How to share the equity
Removing names from or keeping names on mortgages and titles
Whether to sell the house
Funding the house if selling to the other parent
Sole occupancy of house
When to live separately
If someone dies while house is jointly titled and mortgaged

Other Assets

Documentation of all assets
Retirement funds, stocks, mutual funds, etc.
Defined pensions: How to divide
Cars: Titles, registrations, and loans
Household Items: How to distribute and value
Define separate property
Valuation dates
College funds
A business owned by either or both spouses

Debts

Credit cards
Student loans
Car loans
Bankruptcy
Effect of divorce on credit and your credit report
Shared or separate liability

Spousal Maintenance (Alimony)

Temporary Spousal Maintenance vs post-divorce maintenance
How much and for how long
Spousal maintenance guidelines
Tax implications
Conditions of terminating or modifying

Miscellaneous

Changing your last name
Health insurance for the adults
Life insurance: Beneficiary designation, for how long
Taxes: Head of household, dependency allowances, and child tax credit
Future tax audits and liability
Wills, health care proxy and power of attorney updates
Religious annulment
Resolving future conflicts via changes to the separation agreement
Social security

Mediation and Divorce Process

Legal separation or divorce: What’s the difference
Designation of the plaintiff and defendant in the legal paperwork
Fees and resources to process the MOU
Attorney review
How to pay mediation and divorce fees

Divorce Is Complicated

Going through it with the guidance of an experienced divorce mediator allows you settle all these issues and more quickly, peacefully, privately, and at lower cost. Contact me for a complimentary initial consultation.


Photo Credit: ©Can Stock Photo

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