Divorce Mediation Preparation Tips

Best divorce mediation preparation tips from Top Family Lawyers. What should I do to prepare for divorce mediation? How to emotionally prepare for divorce mediation.  How to Prepare for Divorce Mediation. Divorce mediation tips and tricks. Divorce mediation preparation checklist.

Below, we have a list of the attorneys, their respective cities, and their contact information.

Q: What Are the Best Mediation Tips for Clients?

Scott Friedman:

The best mediation tips for clients include starting the week before. Study your financial situation. Study the documents before you go into the mediation and have any questions you have for your attorney, if you have an attorney, answered before you go into the mediation.

Steven Peskind:

The best mediation tips that I give to clients, the ones I regularly give to people, include if you’re uncertain about something, tell the mediator that you need to sleep on it. That’s particularly the case if your lawyer is not at the mediation. In other words, if the client is mediating directly with his or her spouse, no lawyers involved and they’re feeling pressured, they can always ask to sleep on it. That’s advice that I generally give.

Other tips are to listen more than they talk, because it’s a free opportunity to look under the hood of what their spouse is thinking or trying to achieve or what they’ll ultimately to be arguing in court. So don’t necessarily shut down if the spouse is saying things that they don’t like, because that may give us the opportunity to argue against that and to prepare arguments against that in the future.

Melissa Avery:

There are some great ways to get ready for mediation, and my tips on getting ready for mediation are pretty general and big picture. You can let your attorney take care of the details and the small picture items. As a client, what you need to focus on is just keeping an open mind. Often the day of mediation, things don’t go the way that clients expect them to go. The mediator might say or do things differently than they’re expecting. Their own attorney might say or do things differently. It’s all about keeping an open mind so that we can hopefully get over the finish line and get to a settlement.

Also, just be prepared for a long day. Mediation can make for a really long day. I’ve had mediations that have lasted over 12 hours. So being well rested, having nutritious food to eat, having some reading material to get your mind off the stress of the mediation during breaks, all of those things can be helpful. Making sure that your children are cared for, if you’re not done promptly at 5:00 will also really help mediation go better.

Finally, just be willing to compromise. Mediation’s all about compromise, but what you can do in mediation is compromise on your own terms, not on terms that are dictated to you by a judge.

Joe Booth:

Best mediation preparation tips include treating mediation as though it is the final event. To really prepare and have a good sense of where you’re at and to have informed your mediator of what is important to you and what you believe may be important to the other side. Demonstrate that you’ve given the mediation a thoughtful response. It’s really dangerous to walk into mediation and say, “My proposed solution is this,” and then fight for it. It’s far more productive to walk into mediation and believe that you’re going to derive an excellent solution and have some trust in that process.

Randall Kessler:

Know what you can live on. This is a pretty esoteric, ambiguous tip, and I hope it’s okay. But think about how important it is to you to be done with this. It’s a very hard thing to quantify. If you think you’re entitled to $500,000, or $400,000, or $40, ask yourself the question, “How badly do I want out? Maybe, I don’t want anything. I want out so badly that I’m okay even if I walk away with nothing.” Know that going in, because you could be fighting for an extra $5,000 and really the value to you of being done with it exceeds $5,000. It might be worth 10 times that.

Think about how badly you want out, versus what you can live with. If you can live with the bare minimum and be done with it, great. If you’re not in a rush to get out and you just want what’s fair, then think about what’s fair. Think about what you need to live on.

Most importantly, know your budget inside out. Know what you can live on. Know how much you need. So, when the other side says, “I can only give you $4,000 a month,” you have an argument that says, “But the mortgage, and the insurance, and the car payment, those three alone add up to $5,000 a month. I can’t live on $4,000 a month. At least not until I get a job, which is not expected to be for six weeks or six months,” or whatever it is.

Try to visualize your life after the divorce. And if you’ll be happy with no money, then go in and take what you can get. Fight as hard as you can, but don’t let the day end without getting a deal. So many people say, “I wish I’d gotten a deal.” The flip side of that is don’t take a deal just to take a deal. If you’re not sure, sleep on it, think about it, and then call your lawyer the next day and say, “I’m okay with it. Will they still do it?” If not, so what? At least you didn’t make a rush decision. A lot of people make very quick decisions, and they regret them.

Barry Gold:

Best mediation tips for a client include starting the week before mediation. I always recommend to a client that they outline at least three different alternative outcomes to their issue that would be acceptable to them. The purpose for this is to get the client out of the mindset that it’s got to be one specific way to be okay. It encourages them to be creative and be a little more constructive to the mediation process and to looking for alternative resolutions. That mindset is a lot more constructive than someone showing up and saying, “I’ve got to have this outcome or got to have that particular outcome.”

That’s probably the most constructive hands-on tip for the client. I give them material to read, to help them understand what the process is going to be like, but I also like to assure them the mediation is the least formal method of being able to resolve a case. I’ll often encourage them to dress appropriately, but comfortably, realizing that this process is a far cry from a process where they are testifying under oath, where they’re going to be scrutinized, where their statements can be used against them. So, I sometimes highlight that by saying, “Dress comfortably. And let’s try to get this resolved at a time and place where you are the most in charge that you’ll ever be in the process.”

Miles Mason:

My best pre-mediation preparation tip is to call your lawyer and let your lawyer know if you want to have a strategy meeting for mediation. Now, many lawyers won’t ask you if you want this, because they assume, you know what they know, which is mediation is a pretty calm process. The lawyer goes through it over and over again. Yeah, they’re going to be giving you advice in that meeting that they’ve given other people, but it’s going to be tailored to your particular situation.

Don’t lose sleep before mediation. You need to get your rest. While you’re worried about if you’re going to get a settlement and get this whole thing over with, that’s not really the main focus. Yeah, you want to settle. But even though you may not settle at mediation, you might very well settle because of mediation.

So maybe a week later, a couple of weeks later, a couple of key points get knocked out and then everything else falls into place. If you’re worried about it, and you’re worried you’re going to lose sleep, call your lawyer well in advance and get you that appointment to talk about strategy prior to mediation. Also, on the Miles Mason Family Law Group YouTube channel, we have a mediator who gives us advice about preparing for mediation and discusses tips and traps for going into mediation. I encourage you to check out those videos featuring mediator Suzanne Landers.

Thank you for contributing your experience and expertise to our “Top Family Lawyers Answer Divorce Questions” video series.  You are the best!


Randy Kessler
Atlanta, Georgia
Kessler & Solomiany, LLC
ABA Family Law Section, Past Chair




Melissa Avery
Indianapolis, Indiana
Broyles Kight & Ricafort, P.C., Of Counsel
ABA Family Law Section, Past Chair





Joseph W. Booth
Lenexa, Kansas
Law Offices of Joseph W. Booth
ABA Family Law Section, Co-Chair of Publications Board




Scott N. Friedman
Columbus, Ohio
Friedman & Mirman Co., L.P.A.
ABA Family Law Section, Past Chair




Stephen N. Peskind
St. Charles, Illinois
Peskind Law Firm, PC
ABA Family Law Section, Author




Barry L. Gold
Chattanooga, Tennessee
McWilliams, Gold & Larramore
TBA Family Law Section, Past Chair




Miles Mason, Sr.
Memphis, Tennessee
Miles Mason Family Law Group, PLC
ABA Family Law Section, Author




To learn more, see Divorce Mediation Tips from Suzanne Landers, Mediator

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