Brad and Sophia came into divorce mediation with ALL of their ducks in a row!…They had done as much homework before an initial session as any couple I had worked with in over 40 years. How did they do it?
They worked on their parenting first, as, to both of them, it was the most important aspect of their restructuring into two separate homes. Although they had already decided the living arrangements for their children, ages 8 and 10, she wasn’t going to actually move for another month. Before they would change to one-week at one home, the next week at the other home, they had decided to experiment with having the children move between their homes on a two-days at one home, two days at the other home, and then five days, alternatively with each of them. They would both attend all the children’s activities, keeping their current car-pooling arrangements, They built-in flexibility to the living arrangements to account for necessary changes due mostly to travel responsibilities. They had just traveled as a family to a Caribbean Island for a vacation, after their decision to divorce. This couple thoroughly understood that when the living arrangement schedule was one week on/one week off, that they could have a LOT of access to their children when they weren’t actually sleeping at their own homes. I shared the story of Andrew and Anne with them. When the children were at Anne’s home, way across town, Andrew, a top-notch builder, went to her home each day after school, greeting the kids at the school bus, helping them with their homework, and cooking their dinner one night a week. When their mother, a corporate officer arrived home Andrew departed. The kids, at least initially, were with one parent on Saturday, and the other on Sunday. Theirs was an example of how even though the children had a week to week schedule with their parents, they didn’t lose access to both of them.
As many divorcing couples are doing these days, since their incomes were almost equal, instead of paying child support one to the other, which would have been $14/week if she paid him, and $20/week, if he paid her, according to the Massachusetts Child Support Worksheet, they kept one of their joint bank accounts as a Child Support Account. They had already prepared a spreadsheet with the exact amounts of after-school care, activities, pet costs, clothing etc. and knew, to the penny, how much each would contribute monthly to the already funded account. The spreadsheet of the Account was appended to their divorce agreement.
Having “all of their ducks in a row”, he had refinanced their former “marital home”, a home where he had grown up, and was already the sole owner. She had purchased her own condominium and was sole owner. Unlike the majority of couples divorcing, they didn’t have to decide who was going to stay in “the house”.
Sophia and Brad were married for 11 years, a moderate-term marriage; they knew they weren’t obligated to split all of marital property absolutely equally. Their retirement funds were almost equal, except for one of his which was “pre-marital”; he’d earned it before they married. They each kept their own funds in their own names.
Brad and Sophia had already carefully sorted out the values of their cars and household goods and equalized the values between them. There wasn’t much that they hadn’t done before arriving at their initial divorce mediation session. Perhaps their foresight and planning might help you as you are preparing for divorce mediation.