How to Approach Property Division During Mediation

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If you've chosen mediation instead of litigation for your divorce, having the right mindset is crucial. Mediation requires an attitude of transparency, a willingness to compromise, and the ability to realize when emotions are getting in your way.

If you and your spouse aren’t able to achieve the necessary mindset, mediation may not be the right choice for you. But if you can, using mediation to divide property can save you a lot of stress and headache.

Practice Honesty and Transparency

Your mediator will begin your session by inviting you and your spouse to lay your finances on the table, including: 

  • Liquid assets, including cash in your bank accounts, life insurance cash value, certain certificates of deposits, and annuities.
  • Non-liquid assets, including real estate, businesses, investment accounts, retirement accounts, and items like cars and jewelry
  • Income, including what you’ve earned in the past and any changes you expect in the near future
  • Debts, including credit card balances, personal loans, lines of credit, mortgages, and retirement loans.

Be sure to gather all of this information in advance so you're ready to discuss it during the mediation process.

Aside from collecting these financial documents, you must prepare yourself to be honest and transparent during discussions related to marital property division. You'll need to disclose your entire financial picture: everything you own, owe, earn, and spend.

If you're tempted to hide any of these details from your spouse, divorce mediation to determine the division of property may not be right for you — but keep in mind that your assets will come to light one way or another during litigation.

Have you recently made investments or acquired debt that your spouse doesn't know about? Now is the time to be transparent about these facts, as hard as that may be.

Consider and Address Any Emotional Attachments

When it comes down to it, stuff is never just stuff. You naturally develop emotional attachments to your belongings. You'll need to understand and address these attachments before heading into mediation.

Maybe you're not prepared to part with the family home where you raised your children. Or perhaps you're emotionally attached to your retirement assets because you've worked hard to grow your accounts during the marriage.

If you would rather not literally divide these items with your spouse — you will need to be willing to trade other assets in their place. If your spouse also has an attachment to an asset, one or both of you will need to budge to reach an agreement during mediation.

Be Willing to Compromise

You simply can't keep everything in a divorce — and you can't expect to always have your way. You and your spouse both have unique wants and needs for the property division process, and you must be willing to compromise on some issues that feel very important to you. If you're not willing to compromise, mediation won't work. 

You and your spouse may need to exchange apples for oranges to create a fair division of property. For instance, it could be agreed that you will keep the family home, but you will take less of your spouse’s retirement funds. Your divorce lawyer or divorce financial advisor can help you divide your assets fairly based on their fair market value as of the date of separation and the tax implications of keeping them, but successful mediation begins with a willingness to compromise. 

Mediation Can Save You Time, Money, and Stress — If You Have the Right Mindset

Mediation isn't for everyone. If you're not willing to be transparent about your assets, compromise on tough decisions, and sacrifice certain assets for ones you're more attached to, you may be better off letting a judge decide your property division for you based on New York law.

But if you and your spouse can make it work, divorce mediation to help you with property division can help you achieve a more amicable divorce.

Work with a divorce attorney committed to guiding you through peaceful, mutually beneficial mediation. Contact Vacca Family Law Group today at 212-768-1115.