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  • Writer's pictureAlan Jacobs

Define Your Priorities

A major benefit of divorce mediation is that it allows spouses to creatively craft their own solutions to the unique issues affecting their divorce. Mediation generally focuses on the final resolution, rather than on who “won” or who “lost” the divorce. That said, every divorcing spouse can and should identify specific goals that they would like to achieve through the mediation process.

Knowing there are multiple issues that need to be worked out, it is best to first determine what your goals are, while hazarding a guess at what your spouse wants too. You may be surprised when some of your goals align.

Perhaps you both agree the marital home needs to be sold. Or maybe both parents want to ensure the children stay in the same school. Even if your goals and your spouse’s goals do not align exactly that does not mean they contradict each other. Without knowing your goals, the process can become a bit more complicated and messy.

I recommend you make a list of the top-10 results you would like to see from the divorce. Once you have made the list, number the results in order of importance to you. This simple exercise can pay big dividends once the negotiation begins.

For example, if staying in the marital home is your biggest goal, you should probably prioritize this goal instead of driving a hard bargain elsewhere. If you are having trouble prioritizing your goals, it might help to think of issues in terms of worries and concerns, rather than specific divorce-related issues. For example, many spouses are very concerned with cash flow following a divorce. In other words, will the spouse have sufficient cash resources to meet his or her ongoing expenses. Concerns about cash flow often affect multiple divorce-related issues, including child support, alimony, asset division or even parenting time, to the extent that increased parenting time can mean increased costs. If your mediator knows that cash flow is a major concern, the mediator can help find creative compromises that stretch the available funds.

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