Since the beginning of 2015, we have been following one couple, Derek and Stacey, through the divorce mediation process. As the year comes to a close, they are wrapping things up. They have worked out a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) and will soon receive their final judgment of divorce. Thanks to a positive and productive mediation experience, both Stacey and Derek are satisfied with their settlement terms. They are functioning amicably in their new relationship as single co-parents, their children are thriving, and they are both looking forward to bright new futures.
We began this series by looking at the problems in Derek and Stacey’s marriage that led them to decide to divorce, as well as their subsequent decision to attend divorce mediation. Next, we followed them through mediation one step at a time as they resolved their issues. To cap off the series, here is an easy-to-follow outline that will guide you through Derek and Stacey’s journey:
In our first installment, we met Derek and Stacey and learned a little bit about their family situation and the long-term stress in their marriage. We stayed with them as they attended marriage counseling and ultimately decided to proceed to divorce mediation.
In our second installment, we saw what it was like to actually attend a mediation session. Derek and Stacey’s mediator, Ms. Smith, covered the ground rules and helped them make a tentative plan for moving forward.
Installment number 3 covered the first part of Stacey and Derek’s second mediation session. They planned to review the financial information collected so far and then move on to discussing their parenting plan. Find out what happened when they got derailed by a tense conversation concerning the family home.
Installment number 4 demonstrated how the mediator, Ms. Smith, was able to help Derek and Stacey regroup after the family home discussion and work out a tentative parenting plan by focusing on their children’s needs.
In our fifth installment, Derek and Stacey began mediation session number three, where they started off by analyzing their assets and debts. Discussions revolved around the classification of the family home as marital or separate property, the value of Derek’s accounting practice, and the allocation of responsibility for various debts.
The sixth installment picked up in the middle of mediation session three. Although some negative emotions surrounding debt allocation threatened to throw the discussions off track, Stacey and Derek ultimately ended up with a financial picture that looked better than either of them had expected. This smoothed the way for them to move on to a discussion of child support.
Installment number 7 covered the end of the marathon third session. Encouraged by their progress with decisions about assets and debts, Stacey and Derek pushed ahead to take a look at the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines.
In the eighth installment, Derek and Stacey attended their fourth mediation session. After an in-depth discussion of child support and alimony, they arrived at a somewhat surprising outcome. Things proceeded so well during this session that by the end of it they were ready to have Ms. Smith write up their Memorandum of Understanding containing all of their agreements.
Thanks to the help of a calm and knowledgeable mediator, and thanks especially to their own reasonableness, persistence, and commitment to their children, Derek and Stacey have an MSA that will serve them well into the future. They also know that if they do run into any challenging post-divorce issues, Ms. Smith will be available to help them work things out—without the stress and high cost of litigation.
Could mediation help you move calmly and logically through your divorce? Give yourself the holiday gift of a initial consultation to learn more about this helpful process.