Dividing property and assets can be a difficult process. When emotions are involved, it can be hard for the parties involved to work amicably in finding a fair solution. Working with a mediator to help with property mediation is a far better solution than having the courts make the decision. In fact, the courts encourage disputing parties, to try mediation before bringing their case to court. Having a neutral third party who is trained in conflict resolution, will help all parties involved reach a fair settlement and be a far less expensive option, than a drawn out court process.
What Is A Typical Property Mediation Session Like?
Both parties need to be present at each property mediation session. An unbiased mediator will establish a balanced relationship with each party. The mediator will communicate that they are not able to provide legal representation or testify for either party. Additionally the mediator will express that transparency is paramount throughout the entire process. Usually attorneys (of each party) are not allowed to attend mediation sessions but will be useful towards the end of the mediation process.
Typical mediation meetings can last two full sessions and may go longer depending on the complexity as well as number of properties and assets being separated. Each session will last approximately 2-hours. The mediator will start with asking what both parties would like to divide.
Typical property and assets that are divided include (but not limited to):
- Real Estate
- Insurance Policies
- Beach House
- Retirement Accounts
- Stock Portfolio
The job of a mediator also includes addressing unrealistic expectations from both parties and will always search for a solution that is fair for everyone. If discussions become intense, the mediator will often split the parties up into separate rooms, using a common mediation strategy called caucusing. This allows everyone to calm their emotions and provides the mediator an opportunity to speak one on one with each party. The mediator will use this time to understand what each party wants out of the property division, manage their expectations and explain what a new normal looks like after property mediation. Once emotions have been calmed, mediation will continue with both parties and mediator in the same room.
After the first property mediation session, each party will be tasked to gather all the information for the properties or assets they manage individually. For example one party may be responsible to bring in their health policy, retirement benefits or home ownership documents. Whereas the other party may have access to investments, stocks and side business documents. The mediator will be available to the parties involved, for as many sessions as they need, to arrive at a comprehensive agreement.
Once the parties involved have come to an agreement, the mediator will help to create a memorandum of understanding (MOU). This is a document that will outline formally what the agreement is for both parties. At this point, the mediator will ask each party to bring the MOU to their independent attorneys for legal counsel. For married couples we can prepare a marital separation agreement after they have been advised by their attorneys.
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