If you and your soon-to-be-ex spouse have agreed to a mediated divorce, you have chosen to negotiate terms that are mutually agreeable and, in the long term, more sustainable. Mediation is a process. Mediators typically each have their own style of conducting mediations that they feel work best for their clients. Some mediators will meet with you and your spouse for individual meetings that typically last for an hour or two.
This gives each of you time to tell your story confidentially and discuss your needs, goals and concerns. It also gives the mediator a chance to evaluate whether mediation is an appropriate choice for you (for instance, mediation is generally not recommended when there is a history of substance abuse or domestic violence, or if one spouse feels intimidated by the other).
The most important thing to remember as you prepare for your pre-mediation meeting is that you are taking a positive step towards ending your marriage in a peaceful way. It’s understandable that you may be nervous, but by taking care of yourself, staying calm and being prepared, you will be able to move forward with more confidence.
Here’s a checklist of what you need to bring to your pre-meditation meeting
In addition to having the opportunity to meet your mediator and talk about your own expectations and wishes, there are items that you need to bring with you to your initial meeting. Because California is a community property state, the courts require a Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure (yes, even in a mediated divorce). You and your spouse need to complete these separately. This includes an Income & Expense Declaration and a Schedule of Assets and Debts. Here is a checklist of the documents you need to bring to the pre-mediation meeting to complete the declaration:
- Income documents: Copies of pay stubs for the last two months, plus the last pay stub for the previous year; documentation for independent contractor/self-employment income, rental income, dividends, Social Security income, annuity distributions, pension income, trust income, retirement income, commissions and bonuses, workers compensation and income from public assistance, spousal/partner support and unemployment compensation
- Assets documents: Mortgage or deed documents for all real estate, including homes, vacation homes, rental properties (such as apartments and commercial real estate), furniture and appliances, vehicle titles (cars, trucks, boats and trailers) checking and savings account statements, retirement account statements, stocks/bonds/mutual fund/secured note certificates, statement of cash, tax refund document, profit-sharing/annuity/deferred compensation documents, K-1 and Schedule C for Partnerships or Business Interests, accounts receivables, antiques or collectibles
- Marital documents: Marriage certificate or domestic partner registration, and, if minor children are involved, birth certificates/adoption certificates
- Tax documents: State and federal tax returns, usually for at least the last several years
Find out more about pre-mediation meetings and how to prepare yourself
Rebecca Medina is an experienced divorce mediator and family law attorney who helps clients throughout the Fresno & San Diego areas reach equitable settlements. First and foremost, she makes clients feel comfortable with the choices they make and assured that the decisions they reach are not only in their best interest, but their children’s as well.