The holidays are hectic, happy, stressful and busy all at once—especially for families going through or approaching a divorce. According to FindLaw.com, U.S. divorce rates are highest from January to March each year. This could be due to stress caused by the holidays, financial issues with tax season approaching, or New Year’s resolutions that don’t involve staying in an unhappy relationship.

Whether a legal separation is recent or on the horizon, preparation can be key in making the process as smooth as possible. Here are five tips to get ready for divorce mediation in the New Year:

1. Know what you want

Determine your goals and objectives, for you and your family, before walking into your divorce mediation appointment. If you know what your divorce goals are , conversations will be more productive, eventually leading to specific outcomes that take those divorce goals and objectives into account.

2. Get your finances in order

Your filing status on taxes will be different once the separation is final, so it’s important to have all your financial statements in order so that they can be discussed during mediation. Make a copy of all work-related, personal bank and investment statements, run a credit report, obtain income tax returns from the past few years, have your checkbook registry, etc. (Divorce Magazine lists all financial statements you should have prepared).

3. Think of the kids

Establish your ideal co-parenting plan based on your children’s needs before your mediation session, and always have the best interest of your children in mind when making decisions. Keep the kids out of legal talks, and don’t vent or talk badly about your former spouse to them. Try to make this huge change as easy on the kids as possible, taking into account their lifestyles and schedules.

4. Leave your ego behind

Mediation will not work if either person is stubborn or not receptive. Listening is key to reaching successful outcomes, which means no matter how difficult it may be to hear your ex out, no agreements will be made if you’re not willing to work together.

5. Find the right mediator for you

Choosing a divorce mediator is an important decision that will affect your life moving forward. Consider the mediator’s expertise, education, professional experience, reviews, and services offered.

Contact Whole Mediation for a free one-hour consultation if you’re looking for divorce mediation services this New Year!

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