If you are getting a divorce and are getting ready to try to settle the case, chances are you are about to go to mediation. In Texas, mediation usually involves both parties and their attorneys attending a single session of mediation, although it may be for a half day or a full day. No matter the length of time set aside, here are some helpful ideas for preparing to attend mediation.
1. Preparation: Each party should meet with his/her attorney and go over the rules for mediation and how the process works. It's not rocket science, but you will probably be more comfortable if you know the process ahead of time. In addition, each side should have a current Inventory of assets and liabilities with supporting documents. It also helps to put yourself in the other party's position and try to understand their motivations and objectives.
2. Plan: It really helps if your know where you want to end up. You should figure out an appropriate opening position and plan how you can reach the preferred result. Try to think of alternatives you can offer. Be open to changing your plan, but you'll have a better chance of getting a good result if you plan your path.
3. Don't assume: It's easy to assume things will happen a certain way and it's easy to assume the law will do certain things, but those assumptions may not be accurate. It's better to spell out everything and don't rely on shortcuts. Be precise and complete so there's nothing left to negotiate later. Don't stop with an incomplete agreement. Don't assume that everyone will be cooperative later just because they are at the end of mediation. Go ahead and invest the time to decide all necessary details while everyone is getting along, even if you are tired.
4. Read it all: Read the entire agreement and make sure you understand it before you sign it. Don't trust that everything is written correctly just because it was discussed for a long time. Read it and think about how problems could arise. Think the worst. Expect difficulties and think about how they might play out under the agreement.
5. Don't sign until you're sure: Remember, once everyone signs, there's no undoing it! There is no cure for buyer's remorse once the document is signed.
Mediation is a great way to resolve disputes. Please invest time and take it seriously.