Unlike divorce litigation, mediating parties set the pace and the tone for divorce proceedings. Anyone who has made the wise choice to mediate their divorce should arrive prepared to stay on task and to present their personal views on the ideal situation that will follow a divorce.
In order to accomplish everything that needs to be done, divorcing couples will have to address four main concerns before the divorce agreement can be finalized and the binding papers signed. They are, in order of typical emphasis: division of assets, child custody agreements, child support agreements and how the divorcees will handle their ensuing relationship, including any spousal support payments.
Dividing the Assets
Divorcing couples will need to address how each and every asset will be split so that the ultimate outcome will be each former partner receiving marital assets in a rough 50/50 value ratio. Keeping in mind that both debts and property are an asset, the parties must run through every single detail of their collective holdings, including:
- Real estate
- Business assets
- Household belongings
- Investment holdings, including stocks, bonds and retirement accounts
- Bank accounts
- Credit card statements
- Loans, mortgages and other debts
- Life insurance policies
- Income tax balances
- Legal fees
- Anything else of value that either party could want
Each party is advised to arrange a list of priorities they would like to possess following a divorce, such as a piece of furniture with sentimental value or a vehicle they drove every day. They should come up with a fair arrangement where they can keep the items and holdings they want most while offering the other party fair, equal value in return.
Child Custody and Child Support Agreements
One of the biggest benefits of divorce mediation is that the parents have ultimate control over who gets custody. Each parent can argue their case for full custody, or together they can determine the best ways to share.
Arrangements that must be made include:
- Custody schedules
- Pick up and drop off agreements
- How decision-making for major issues will be handled
- Schooling, tutoring and extracurriculars
- Other agreements like how disciplinary matters will be addressed by both parents or how new relationships will be introduced
Child support is a trickier issue. The child should be able to enjoy a nearly-identical standard of living and quality of life to the one they had before, regardless of custody arrangements. Divorcing parties can consult Canadaâ€™s Federal Child Support Guidelines for suggested monthly payment amounts based on income and number of children.
Finally, the spouses must decide how they will interact in the future. Divorcees can prepare a process for voicing their ongoing concerns in a manner that does not harass the other party. Spousal support, also known as alimony, can also be arranged. Consult the Canadian Department of Justiceâ€™s alimony guidelines for more information.
In the end, both parties should cover the extent of possible issues until no questions are left unanswered.