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Strategies To Win Your Divorce Mediation

Strategies To Win Your Divorce Mediation

In Washington State, couples going through divorce are required to attend a mediation in an attempt to settle the case before trial, unless excused for reasons such as domestic violence. As a divorce attorney, I have prepared hundreds of clients for mediation. I have also served as a mediator in many family law cases. Below are some of the strategies I use to prepare my clients for mediation.

Reset Your Expectations. In a successful mediation, both parties will need to compromise. Parties should participate in mediation with an open mind and be prepared to bargain on issues that might sting a little. You should walk out of a successful mediation feeling relieved that you have achieved closure and knowing you can live with the agreements you have reached.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare. It is worth the time and effort to prepare proposed final documents, such as a Parenting Plan, Child Support Order, and Asset and Debt Spreadsheet. Preparation helps one understand the issues and to better negotiate them. Provide the full required financial documentation along with any other evidential proof you might need to support your positions. For financial issues, it is worth thinking through a series of offers you are willing to make throughout the day of mediation. This will help you really think about potential proposals and details thereof prior to arriving at mediation. It is surprisingly common for a party to show up at mediation having given very little thought to their respective position and being unprepared. This wastes so much time as the unprepared party will need to process some incredibly difficult decisions and scenarios for the first time in the heat of mediation. Mediation is also a very emotional process and it is worth putting in the work beforehand.

Be Flexible. This tip is key! It is not a good idea to arrive at mediation with a long list of positions you absolutely has to win as this can set you up for failure. The more flexible one can be the more alternatives are likely to arise for consideration and the better the chances of reaching agreements. Staying flexible can also help provide the mediator with more options to bring the parties to a conclusion and agreements at mediation.

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