Divorce is almost always a painful process. Determining how to divide assets and determine their cash value is often a difficult and bitter end to a relationship that did not work out. Emotions run high, even in an amicable divorce. Therefore, being prepared is the best way to ensure both parties receive their equitable and fair share of the marital assets and debts. Listing shared properties of value, dividing properties with written evaluations by a neutral party and listing all goals for the divorce mediation are important to avoid costly mistakes.

List All Items of Value
Every couple has items of value. A family home is a piece of real property. Vehicles, jewelry, family heirlooms and furniture may all have monetary value. Family businesses or savings and retirement accounts are part of the marital assets as well. Credit card or loan debt must be considered as part of the equation also. These items are all part of the property settlement for the divorce. Dividing them equitably between the partners is the goal of mediation. Having a list of all valued property makes division easier and ensures both parties receive their fair share.

Evaluating the Property
Rhode Island is not a community property state when dividing marital assets. Rhode Island still holds on to the antiquated notion that fault in the breakdown of the marriage matters. Accordingly, mediators and the parties’ should consider the bad acts of each party when determining the fair way to divide assets. If the property is held by one party alone, the other party often is entitled to their share of the equity or value. This does not mean both partners will receive an equal amount, but the mediation process is designed to help the parties determine what they consider to be a fair division of the assets and debts. Written evaluations of value are often completed, by a neutral third-party, are usually invaluable to the mediation. This helps establish actual values and equity of the property. It keeps the mediation on a successful track for both parties.

Bring a Written List of Goals
Remember; mediation is a form of negotiation. It is important for each person to know their goals. Writing them down gives a person the opportunity to ensure they will reach those goals. It is difficult to make changes once a mediation agreement is complete, so referring to a list of property, values and general notes ensures nothing is forgotten in the final mediation agreement.

Mediation is often a cost-effective way for couples to divide their assets without the cost of litigation. Being prepared for the mediation is the best way to achieve a fair settlement in a timely fashion for both parties. Successful mediation preparation is almost always done with the assistance of an attorney. If you are considering divorce mediation, please call our office to learn more.