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Divorce, Mediation and Being Prepared

Of the four major issues facing divorcing couples: parenting plans, equitable distribution, child support and spousal support/alimony, three of these issues are financial and will require you to produce documentation which is commonly prepared at year end so it's important that you obtain copies as soon as you are able. Items such as W-2's, tax returns, mortgage balances, annual 401k / brokerage statements, etc. will all be sent to you in the coming months and will come in handy when discussing the areas mentioned above. Having copies will not only help you be better informed and prepared but also allow you and your soon to be ex come to a fair and equitable settlement based on actual, recent data. Frequently, one member of the household is "in charge of the checkbook" and has the couple's financial information at their fingertips while the other party is mostly in the dark. By taking advantage of this time of year and the year-end statements that come with it, if you are contemplating a divorce, now is a good time to become well-informed and begin planning your future.

Another reason these items are important is directly related to one of the main benefits of mediation. Most divorcing couples who use a divorce mediation service save at least $20,000 on their divorce and a big part of that reason is directly related to the information gathering phase. By doing your homework and producing the requested documentation, you and your spouse will not only both be on a level playing field which leads to more informed decision making, it will also help your mediator in calculating such data driven items such as equitable distribution and child support and possibly help ease the divorce process thus minimizing cost and stress. Given the uncertainty divorce can bring, it's best to gather as much information as possible in advance in order to get a handle on what your future financial picture might look like and with all the year-end reporting, it's much easier at this time of year.

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