Divorce and Family Law

How to properly prepare for mediation

Proper preparation for mediation is critical for family law lawyers.

Did you know a significant minority of lawyers fail to properly prepare, or prepare at all, for a domestic relations mediation?

Did you know a significant minority of lawyers don’t use any software like Settlyd or Traxler to help them analyze their cases?

Did you know that a significant minority of lawyers walk into mediation having no theory of their case or even a concept of how it should be resolved?

Many family law lawyers work in small or sole practice firms with little previous training like many of us received working for large firms or governmental agencies right out of law school.  Their business plan is based upon billable hours and settling as many cases as possible.  There is generally little appetite for trials as trials are expensive, time consuming, and we lose money because we cannot take other cases as we are tied up in trial.

If you come to me for a mediation, this is what I need in advance so that we have a chance at reaching resolution:

  1. Send me the all of the pleadings, motions, orders, affidavits, and GAL reports.
  2. Write me a letter/email stating the following:
  • A brief history of the relationship and why the marriage has failed.
  • Tell me about the known facts/ financials, parenting, legal, etc…
  • Tell me about known, unknown facts, if any (pensions, retirement account balances, annuities, unknown income, medical issues for the kids…)
  • Tell me about unknown, unknown facts that you may suspect are present.
  • Tell me what you want and why (your position statement).
  • If critical facts are unknown, and the lack of this information will prevent a settlement, do not schedule the mediation until after receipt of this information. 
  • Send me your worksheets- child support, alimony, asset division, disposable income, etc…  
  • Finally, explain to your client that mediation is not about finding “justice”.  “Justice” will be ordered by the Family Court Judge after a trial.  Mediation is for settling a lawsuit.  It requires that both parties give up things that they may want to end the litigation. Compromise is the name of the game; If your client has an unyielding legal position (and it may well be justified), let me know in advance and we will account for this in the mediation.

I hope you find this helpful.

Guy Vitetta


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