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Preparing for divorce mediation

You and your spouse have not been able to resolve your property division, custody and alimony matters, but you believe mediation may be the solution. The mediator is prepared to help the two of you reach agreements on these topics, but you must be able to present your side of the situation to reach a fair decision.

Here are the things you can do to make sure you get the most out of your mediation sessions.

Property division

Gather your financial documents, account information, income statements and an inventory of your assets to bring with you to mediation so you will be ready to discuss property division. Remember to list assets such as savings and retirement accounts, life insurance policies, stocks, bonds and other investments. Also, gather information about unconventional assets such as credit card points, burial plots and season tickets.

Child custody

The Florida courts determine custody based on the best interests of the child. You will want to bring your ideal schedule and your ideas for the fair division of parental rights and responsibilities. You can set yourself up for realistic expectations by reviewing the list of considerations for your child’s best interests in the state statute before you go to mediation:

  • The demonstrated willingness and ability of each parent to develop and maintain a strong parent-child relationship, honor the parenting schedule and be flexible when necessary
  • The ability of each parent to meet the child’s basic needs, as well as the developmental, emotional and social needs
  • The involvement of each parent in the child’s education and extracurricular activities
  • Which parent commonly performs various parental responsibilities
  • The safety of each home environment
  • Each parent’s mental and physical health
  • The parents’ demonstrated willingness to put the needs of the child above his or her own needs or wishes

The statute ends with the caveat that consideration for the best interests of the child when determining the parenting plan and schedule include any other factor that may be relevant. If you believe there are other factors, make a list of these to present during the discussion.

Alimony

Like custody, there exist several factors that the Florida statutes list in the consideration for alimony. These include the following:

  • The standard of living you had during your marriage
  • The length of the marriage
  • How old you and your spouse are
  • What financial resources you each have
  • The earning potential, education, work skills and employability of each of you
  • What each of you contributed to the marriage
  • Any other factor that affects the equity of the divorce

There are four different types of alimony. Each addresses a specific need, whether that is to help one spouse get back on his or her feet after the divorce, provide funds for education or training, provide for the needs of a spouse who cannot become self-supporting or provide financial assistance for a specific period of time.

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