How do you prepare for a mediation?

Come to the mediation with an open mind.  A goal of mediation is to allow the participants, with the help of the mediator, to generate creative options that meet the participants' needs. The mediator will suppport the participants in clearly setting forth their prospective goals and needs. By coming to a mediation with an open mind, you can consider a variety of options that may meet your needs. Often, the participants reach an agreement that is quite different from solutions discussed prior to the mediation. 

Gather all the relevant information. Many decisions that are made in mediation are based upon information that is readily available to the participants.

  • What are the participants' incomes?
  • Does either participant have a pension?
  • What are the balances on the participants' credit cards?
  • What is the participants' house worth?

 The answers to these questions may be important to the dispute resolution process. Consequently, it is important to gather and bring to the mediation documents that contain important information. Bring

  • A recent paystub;
  • Last year's tax return;
  • The most recent retirement account statements;
  • The most recent bank statements;
  • The most recent brokerage statements;
  • The most recent credit card statements;
  • Appraisals of family assets;
  • Budget of monthly living expenses;
  • Other documents that may be useful in verifying information.

Remember that the mediation will be designed to meet your needs. Every family member has unique circumstances and goals. Thus, no two mediations are alike. As your unique circumstances and goals are reviewed, the mediation will be tailored to meet these needs and goals. The mediation process will proceed as quickly or as slowly as you desire.

Do you need a lawyer in mediation?  Lawyers frequently attend mediations with their clients. Lawyers are able to recommend settlement offers to their clients and provide legal advice to their clients throughout the mediation. A mediator can not provide legal advice to a mediation participant.  Legal advice can only come from a participant's lawyer. Many participants elect not to bring their lawyers to the mediation, but confer with their lawyers between mediation sessions. It is entirely up to the participant as to whether he or she believes that he or she would benefit from the presence of a lawyer at the mediation.

Personal safety in mediation. Mediation is designed for participants who feel safe in the presence of their family members. It is not designed for participants who are fearful in the presence of a family member. It may not be appropriate to mediate if you are a victim of domestic violence. If you believe that attending a mediation would expose you to risk of physical or emotional harm, please contact William Downes prior to scheduling a mediation session. 

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