Aug 3

Mediation – Preparation for the Property Division Issues

You have agreed to mediate the property division issues related to the divorce action and chosen a mediator from the pool of potential mediators. What do you do next? Prepare to help the mediator help you.
A mediator cannot help you narrow issues and facilitate the discussion of resolution options unless you help the mediator understand what you have and what you hope to achieve. Prior preparation on your part will help you get the most out of your mediation session or sessions and have the information you will need to complete the documents to be filed with the court.
In order to help the mediator understand what is involved in your potential property division, you need to identify all assets and liabilities.
Prepare a list of all the assets in your name, your spouse’s name, and joint names. Your list should, for instance, include all bank accounts, money market accounts, real estate, vehicles, retirement accounts, annuities, mutual funds, stock, bonds, life insurance policies, and anything else your and/or your spouse own.
Once you have your list of assets, gather information that will help you put a value on each asset. This can be the balance in an account from an account statement, the number of shares of stock and price per share, or the cash surrender value of life insurance.
Kelly Blue Book is one source to investigate for vehicle values. Real estate values can be based on the fair market value on a tax statement, the opinion of a relator, an appraisal, or whatever you and your spouse agree is the value. In mediation you and your spouse can agree to use whatever value or method of valuation for an asset that the two of you agree is appropriate.
Make a list of all debts such as a mortgage, loans, credit cards, student loans, and any other obligation you and your spouse have. Gather documentation showing the current balance owed on each obligation.
While this may look like a lot of work, doing so helps you gain an understanding of the assets and debts. As you are gathering this information, begin to think about what you would like the division of property to look like so that you can express your ideas about the division in the mediation session. Gathering as much information as you can will go a long way toward making the mediation session or sessions efficient and productive.