Tips for preparation and negotiation for and during mediation

Before coming to the first mediation session, it is a good idea to

  • ♦    Take the time to gather all the information you will need to resolve all the issues
  • ♦    Identify your needs in the following areas and be prepared to tell them to the mediator
    • ♦    Financial, real estate and property needs
    • ♦    Parenting needs and needs of your children
  • ♦    Determine what you need to put into a mediated agreement

You should figure out how much it costs you each month for the following kinds of expenses. You also need to know how much of each amount is spent on your children.

  • ♦    Housing and utilities
  • ♦    Food and clothing
  • ♦    Life and health insurance premiums, as well as insurance co-payments
  • ♦    Medicines and prescriptions
  • ♦    Car payments, insurance and gas
  • ♦    Child care, day care, school tuition and fees
  • ♦    Child support and/or spousal maintenance

You need to have information about the following, including account and policy numbers, balances, beneficiary names, policy limits, and who owns each account, fund or policy.

  • ♦    Checking and savings accounts, as well as certificates of deposit
  • ♦    Accounts that have stocks or bonds
  • ♦    Money market accounts and mutual funds
  • ♦    Retirement funds and all other investments you have
  • ♦    All insurance policies, including life, health, property, car, etc
  • ♦    The cash value, if any of any insurance policies

It is a good idea to know in advance how you would like to divide things. Be open-minded about other ideas that come up during mediation, but be ready to tell the following about how you would like to see things divided

  • ♦    The value of your home and any other real estate and how you figured out the value for each
  • ♦    The value of your household goods and how you figured out that value
  • ♦    How you want to divide each piece of property and the household goods and why

It is also advisable to know before mediation what kinds of decisions you want to make about the children. Take time to figure out what issues need to be resolved, and have some ideas on how you want to decide on them. Be prepared to explain how you decided, and again, be open minded to new ideas that may come up during mediation. Examples of parenting issues that may need to be decided include:

  • ♦    Where the children will live
  • ♦    What child rearing style and value system will be used and how the children will be disciplined
  • ♦    How each parent will get to see the children’s medical and school records
  • ♦    How to share notice of school performances and conferences
  • ♦    How to schedule time with the children, including weekdays, weekends, vacations, holidays, birthdays, and other special times
  • ♦    How the visitation schedule will work with the children’s school, social, and religious activities
  • ♦    Whether the children will have any type of religious or spiritual upbringing and if so, what type?
  • ♦    How time with grandparents will be handled
  • ♦    How you will handle telephone calls with the other parent
  • ♦    Transportation arrangements, including costs
  • ♦    How you will make decisions, including major medical decisions
  • ♦    How you will resolve problems in the future

Mediation works best if you both come to the session willing to:

  • ♦    Work to create solutions
  • ♦    Accept that you are going to have to give in order to receive
  • ♦    Work to control your emotions so that you can think clearly
  • ♦    Tell the truth and give accurate information
  • ♦    Give all the information needed to solve problems and reach agreement
  • ♦    Treat each other respectfully and fairly
  • ♦    Listen carefully and communicate clearly
  • ♦    Ask lots of questions
  • ♦    Remember that you are acting on behalf of your children, who cannot negotiate for themselves

When in mediation, you should try not to:

  • ♦    Make unreasonable demands or be inconsiderate of the other person
  • ♦    Ignore the other person’s needs
  • ♦    Be rude or lose your temper
  • ♦    Overestimate your needs or underestimate the other person’s needs
  • ♦    Hesitate to ask questions or be too scared to negotiate what you or your children need
  • ♦    Make promises that you cannot keep
  • ♦    Lie or exaggerate
  • ♦    Pass up what’s in you own or your children’s best interests because of past conflicts
  • ♦    Let the other person intimidate you or intimidate the other person
  • ♦    Agree to anything that you don’t feel safe with
  • ♦    Expect the mediator to give you legal advice, therapy or counseling
  • ♦    Think your way is the only way

Marc P. Feldman’s Divorce Mediation Center of New Jersey serves clients in Parsippany, Morristown, Morris Township, Morris Plains, Dover, Rockaway, Roxbury, ,Madison, Florham Park, Chester, Boonton, Chatham, Denville, Hanover, Florham Park, Kinnelon, Mendham, Mount Olive and all of Bergen County, Essex County, Hudson County, Middlesex County, Morris County, Passaic County, Somerset County, and Union County, New Jersey.


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