Mediation can be an effective alternative to bringing your divorce to court. You can make decisions about your children, assets and finances in a cost-effective and private environment. But even outside of a court room, settling divorce-related issues may feel overwhelming.

However, there are steps you can take to settle your nerves. Divorce mediation can be very successful if you’re organized, calm and prepared to have a productive conversation.

Find the best divorce mediator for you.

You should feel confident going into your first session that you chose the right mediator for you. To gain this confidence, you should research mediators. Read any articles that your potential mediator has published and conduct research on their experience and education.

If possible, meet with your potential mediator beforehand to ensure they’re a good fit. In person, you can get a better idea of their soft traits, such as their communication style and empathy.

Keep your feelings and health in check.

Meeting with your ex to negotiate important topics may bring out anger, sadness or other negative emotions. It’s important to keep these feelings under control. Remind yourself why you chose mediation, and perhaps seek an outlet for your feelings outside of mediation. You could:

  • Join a support group
  • Attend therapy
  • Confide in friends and family
  • Exercise

By finding an outlet for your feelings, you may be able to better negotiate in mediation – and keep disagreements from leading to fights. Working out and communicating with others can also benefit your physical and mental health.

Prepare financial documents and a budget.

It’s helpful to have information about your finances prepared for your first session. Typically, you will need a list of all your major assets, including:

  • Mutual funds
  • Retirement funds
  • Real estate
  • Time shares

You should also have all loan and debt balances on paper, including:

  • Home equity loan
  • Credit card balances
  • Student loans
  • Car loans

You can prepare this list with your ex or by yourself. Just make sure that it’s detailed and organized. By having a spreadsheet with all important financial information, you can save both time and money in mediation.

Along with these documents, you should also prepare a budget. This budget should include living expenses, such as:

  • Household expenses
  • Childcare costs
  • Health insurance
  • Car costs

With a budget on hand, it may be easier to negotiate a fair amount for you to pay or receive in the divorce.

Consider hiring an attorney.

In addition to hiring a mediator, you may also hire your own attorney for legal representation in your mediation. They can help you understand all the important legal terms, meanings and implications. Furthermore, they can advocate for your interests and fight for the outcome you desire.

Mediation can sometimes feel as stressful as bringing your divorce to court. It’s normal to be nervous. But having an experienced attorney on your side can help you get the outcome you want.