Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution that may be used instead of going to trial or ahead of trial. During a mediation, both parties meet with their lawyers and a neutral third-party mediator. The mediator’s job is to help the parties find common ground. Issues addressed in mediation often do not need to be handled in court, saving time, expense, and stress for everyone involved.
Mediation is commonly used in family law situations including divorce and child custody. In fact, most courts in Iowa require it. To succeed at mediation, it helps to be prepared. Having a knowledgeable and experienced attorney to help guide you through the process is essential to preparing your case correctly.
What to Pack for Mediation
While the mediation process is not as complicated or as stressful as cases that are brought to court, it is still important to be as prepared as possible. That means knowing what to bring and knowing what you’d like to accomplish. Plan ahead by bringing the following items with you to mediation:
1. All schedules, calendars, or day planners
Many mediations involve setting at least one future date, whether it’s for additional mediation or for another step in the process. When discussing child custody or other issues, you’ll be talking about a great many dates, including holidays, school events, and extracurricular activities. Having your calendar handy can help you spot upcoming conflicts and create a schedule that works for you. It is also helpful to bring the school calendar for the district where you live, as well as the schedules for any extracurricular activities.
2. Copies of information that is important to the issues being discussed during mediation.
Before the mediation, talk to your lawyer about which questions or issues will be discussed during mediation. Then, bring information that relates to those issues and that you may need while mediation is occurring. For example, if your mediation focuses on splitting marital assets, copies of bank statements, paystubs, insurance policies, and information about assets and debts will be useful. If you’re going to talk about child custody, copies of your children’s schedules, medical information, and educational documents can be valuable.
3. Your goals.
What do you want to achieve at mediation? What would a successful outcome look like for you? By writing down your goal in a sentence or two, you give yourself a powerful tool to help you focus and maintain clarity even when things get tense. Your attorney can help you set a realistic goal for mediation if you’re not sure where you’re headed.
4. Any other items your attorney recommends.
Depending on the specific topics to be covered during your family law mediation, your lawyer may recommend you bring other documents or items to the mediation. Make sure to include these as you prepare for your mediation session.
Work With an Experienced Family Law Attorney
Nobody should go through the mediation process alone. Whether you’re going through a divorce, determining child custody, or dealing with any other number of issues that require mediation, finding the right attorney to handle your case will help you reach the result you want.
Attorney Jonathan D. Schmidt focuses on helping clients with a wide range of family law matters, including divorce and custody negotiations. To learn more, call for a consultation today at (319) 423-3031.