So, you have mediation next week (or tomorrow) and you don’t have an attorney. Heck, you have mediation next week and you don’t even know what mediation is or how it works. Don’t worry. This happens more often than you think.

You can deal with this in a couple ways: (1) attend mediation alone, (2) hire an attorney to go with you. People usually choose option (1) because they don’t have money to pay for an attorney. If that’s your situation, that’s okay. Here are a few things you will want to do or keep in mind before mediation:

  1. Review this letter that explains how mediation works, as well as this our mediation FAQs. Knowledge is power.
  2. Google your mediator to see who he or she is. If you know a little bit about your mediator, you’ll feel more comfortable during mediation.
  3. Review the pleadings that have been filed so far in your case, especially the Financial Declarations. If you don’t know what a Financial Declaration is, read here. Financial Declarations are how you determine child support and alimony, as well as asset and debt division. Financial Declarations are the most important documents in Utah divorces and child custody cases.
  4. If you haven’t completed a Financial Declaration, sit down now and fill it out. (If you need one, click here.) It will take you some time, but get all the documents together and get it done. Once it’s done, make a copy and send it to the other party or the attorney. If you don’t complete a Financial Declaration, you will be flying blind. You’ll be at the other party’s mercy because they will have facts and figures — and you won’t.
  5. Keep this in mind: you don’t have to agree to anything. You can always walk away from mediation if you feel like you aren’t getting a good deal.
  6. Unless you’re sure about the agreement you negotiated, don’t sign. If you sign an agreement (usually called “stipulation”) in mediation, you will be bound by it. Assume you can’t change anything after mediation.

If you would feel more comfortable with an attorney, find one you trust. And make sure it’s an attorney who does primarily family law, preferably one who only takes only divorce and child custody cases. And don’t worry; you’ll be able to find a good attorney who will go to mediation with you.

Whatever you choose, be as prepared as possible for mediation. It will pay off.

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