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Mediation Can Be Dangerous Unless You Do Your Homework

Posted on March 5, 2015

There are countless articles online and in the legal community describing the Mediation process as “informal”. This oftentimes invites a false sense of security for parties who might otherwise prepare for the Mediation process, but are under the false impression that Mediation is nothing to worry about. Do not be misled by the articles you read on this issue—the truth is that Mediation is a big deal and can have real consequences for you and your family should you fail to prepare or have an attorney with you on that day.
How do you do your homework for this big day?

Call your attorney a week in advance and schedule an appointment to meet prior to Mediation. And by prior, we are not talking the day of, or 5 minutes before the scheduled Mediation. At this meeting, you should remind the attorney what you are looking to accomplish at the Mediation. Come prepared and have a list with you of all the things you would like to settle. Know what your bottom line is and what issues you would be willing to let go.

If your issues involve child support, you will want to have an itemized list of the money you have received from the other party and when you received it. This helps the family law attorney figure out how much child support you might be owed, and gets you a higher figure at Mediation. Determining the amount of child support owed by a party is a complicated process, and any attorney worth their salt will calculate this information before Mediation so that everyone is aware of what is at stake at the Mediation.

And finally, if your issues involve minor children, you will want to become very familiar with a Parenting Plan. In Florida, divorce decrees oftentimes incorporate two documents: the Parenting Plan and a Marital Settlement Agreement or Mediation Agreement. The Parenting Plan is oftentimes done at the last minute at Mediation and not properly thought through. Mediators and attorneys might be so focused on the major issues they do not pay attention to the fact that you might want to celebrate the kids’ birthdays with them each year. Make sure you bring with you your own copy of a Parenting Plan already filled out, and review it periodically through the process to ensure you are getting the best result.

Taking these extra steps before Mediation should prepare you for the big day and will help your attorney immensely.


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