In most states, including New York, the divorce mediation process is optional. It requires the knowing consent of each party. Both parties have to want mediation otherwise it will not work; this is a collaborative process. 

To begin  NYC divorce mediation, you and your spouse must both agree to mediate defined issues and understand the process and the objective. “What,” “How,” “Why,” must be a shared experience to validate the proceeding. 

Each party needs to develop a list of relevant assets and possessions:  including business ownership, stock portfolios, real property, personal property, bank accounts, and life insurance policies; also one’s debts and liabilities.  Full disclosure is mandatory; in its absence, the agreement is subject to a request for its vacatur and cancelation. Collect records for all income sources, whether it is pay stubs, financial reports, tax returns, self-employment profit-loss statements, social security, or other records. Recurring ordinary expenditures, such as food, clothing, shelter, and utilities, as well as liabilities such as mortgage and credit card indebtedness, student loans, should also be accounted for and disclosed to the mediator. It is not necessary, but I recommend using New York’s statement of net worth document in order to have an easy outline to use when organizing your financial picture. Mediation cannot succeed unless all parties are fully informed about what they own and owe. 

Once your financial page is set down and reviewed by each party, spend some time figuring out what matters to you; what you want; what you need, and “why” Figure out what you can or cannot live with. Understand your reasoning and also your spouse’s reasons for support or opposition to your objectives. Get to the details. 

If you have children, parental and financial decisions should be kept apart; as separate decisions. These decisions should be made in the child’s or children’s best interests. 

Finally, do your research to make sure you truly know what divorce mediation consists of; do some research so you know what the tools and processes include and what can and cannot be accomplished. You do not want to begin the mediation process only to become disappointed when your expectations do not meet reality. 

Consult a family law/mediator for professional advice.