Many California couples who end their marriages choose mediation rather than litigation. With the mediation process, you and your spouse can strive to negotiate a fair agreement without the intervention of a judge. 

Before filing for divorce, understand what to expect from the mediation process and prepare yourself with these steps. 

Seek an experienced mediator 

A professional mediator is typically an attorney trained in alternative dispute resolution. Often, he or she is a family law specialist who will facilitate negotiation on issues such as property division, child custody and spousal support. 

Gather financial information 

Having a full account of separate and marital income, expenses, assets and debts provides the starting point for an agreement. You will need to bring documentation to your mediation session, including but not limited to tax records, paycheck stubs, and records of income from Social Security, retirement income, child support and spousal support. 

Both partners should list: 

  • Real estate 
  • Stocks and investment funds 
  • Annuities and life insurance policies 
  • Credit card accounts 
  • Savings and checking accounts 
  • Vehicles, including cars, trucks, recreational vehicles and boats 
  • Personal property, such as jewelry and collections 

Prepare a complete inventory of your monthly expenses, including credit card and debt bills, student loan payments, utility and phone bills, grocery costs, health insurance premiums, auto loans and home loans. 

Build a support network 

Enter mediation with a clear head and a calm demeanor. While you will have complex and perhaps painful feelings associated with your divorce, emotional support from family, friends and/or a therapist can help you process these feelings and prepare to protect your interests while reaching an amicable resolution to your marriage. 

Determine your priorities 

Maybe you want to stay in the family home until your children graduate high school. Perhaps you do not have children, but want to maintain your small business as separate property. When you know what you most want to achieve in mediation, you can decide to concede on less important points. 

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