What Preparation is Necessary or Divorce Mediation / Family Mediation?
Prospective Mediation participants will be provided a specific guide for preparation in advance of the first mediation session, usually by email. At the initial consultation the mediator will provide additional guidance for preparation for follow-up family mediation sessions. Most family law and divorce mediations require preparation of income, expense, asset and debt information, including but not limited to tax returns, pay stubs and statements from accounts. A financial statement for a Maryland Separation or Divorce matter is a useful tool to help parties organize this information. Click here to download it.
Income Information: Income information is relevant to the topics of Child Support (to calculate Child Support pursuant to the Maryland Child Support Guidelines law) and for Alimony (i.e. spousal support). To determine income, be prepared to discuss income earned from all sources, including but not limited to income generated by a business (Business income after payment of business expenses produces the taxable income figure) employment income, overtime, bonuses, interest earned on non-retirement funds, rental income, second jobs, side businesses, regular gifts of money received on a regular basis. For calculation of overtime or bonuses be prepared to know the last 3-5 years of such income so that a fair average can be calculated, although averaging is not always the fair methodology. If incomes are variable from year to year, which is often true in professions such as real estate agents or other sales people where annual incomes may rise and fall from year to year. Each party must understand his and her pay period cycles. Are you paid weekly (52 times each year) twice monthly (24 pay cycles) or in alternating weeks (26 pay cycles)? Bringing a most recent pay stub is helpful.
Expenses Information: To determine expenses, prepare by bringing the annual figures or the 12 month average. When it comes to “soft” costs such as food, household supplies, home maintenance, gasoline and clothing, determining the average is somewhat tedious and more challenging. Don’t worry if expense information is not completed for the first session of mediation. For calculating Child Support, couples with minor children should bring expense information relating to major Child expenses, such as work-related child care expenses, health insurance costs, uninsured medical or educational expenses of the Children, such as private school and like major children expenses. In cases with no minor Children, where one party is anticipated to seek Alimony (spousal support) expense information is necessary for the first session. However, in Alimony cases anticipated future expenses may be necessary to formulate an accurate post-divorce or post-separation expense sheet. We will determine at the close of the first session what additional expense information is needed for the subsequent session.
Assets Information: Assets refer to the property that you own, such as a home, vacation home, timeshare, automobiles, trucks, boats, bank accounts, investment accounts, furniture, furnishings, collections, jewelry, businesses, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, bonds and pets. Know how your assets are titled. If you know the value of your assets bring the information about value. Appraisals of assets is often necessary to determine value, and that is usually discussed at the first session. For accounts, bring the latest statements.
Debt Information: Debts include mortgages, home equity lines of credit, student loans, credit card debts, car loans and the like. Know how debts are titled. Sometimes credit cards are titled to one party and the other party is an authorized user. If you are unsure, call the credit card company.
Health Insurance Information: Calculating the cost to cover each person on a policy of health, dental or vision insurance requires a breakdown of the costs to cover the primary insured (i.e. the Employee-only costs), and the break-down of the other family components (i.e., Employee plus 1 child, plus 2 children; Employee plus spouse). In a Child Support case, we are looking for the costs to cover the Children.
If you are unsure what information is necessary, ask the Mediator in advance of the session.
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