[Ed: Originally published on Facebook.]
Preparing for mediation is something you should not rush through. That said, often the best way to prepare for mediation is usually to be as prepared as you can for trial.
Think through – and write down – what you think your best day in court probably looks like. Be at least a little realistic; a “total victory” is unlikely under pretty much any circumstances. Then go through and write out various scenarios that are less in your favor, and ask yourself seriously if you could live with that result. Keep iterating through this process until you find where you are just too uncomfortable with the result – that is probably your “bottom line”.
Now, try and put yourself in your spouse’s shoes. What does “victory” look like for him? What aspects of that “victory” do you think are most important to him? What aspects do you think are least important to him?
Don’t try to do all of this in your head. I’m a big believer in spreadsheets, especially for property divisions and trying to figure out what long-term support obligations look like. When I’m looking at child custody arrangements, I like to print out school calendars and try to figure out where the conflicts might come up. And I can’t remember the last time I went to a mediation without my laptop available, for modeling and calculations and such.