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The role of signed agreements during divorce mediation

On Behalf of | Jun 17, 2024 | Mediation

Couples preparing for divorce often have a lot of issues to discuss. Some families simply cannot compromise on major decisions and end up litigating in family court. Others want to resolve as much as possible outside of court.

They may even be able to arrange for an uncontested divorce filing if they settle all of their disagreements before going to family court. Mediation can be a way to resolve disputes without relying on a judge to make certain decisions for them.

Some people feel anxious about the attempt to cooperate with a spouse, as they worry that their spouse might back out of an agreement and leave them at a major disadvantage. The mediation process protects the people involved by requiring at least one, if not two, signed agreements between the participants.

The role of agreements in mediation

A signed agreement helps ensure that both spouses cooperate and that neither enters into the mediation process in bad faith. Ensuring confidentiality is often a key aspect of successful mediation. The lawyers representing the individual spouses have a duty of confidentiality to their clients. The mediator is also bound by state law to treat the proceedings as confidential. They cannot disclose what happens during the mediation session. The spouses themselves may even need to sign a confidentiality agreement at the beginning of the mediation process. Doing so helps ensure the protection of all parties after discussing potentially personal and private matters.

During mediation negotiations, both sides and the mediator may explore the issues facing the couple. They can do so openly because discussions are confidential. Eventually, conversations may lead to an amicable agreement. Mediation typically ends after the spouses sign a written agreement thoroughly outlining the specific terms that they agreed to during mediation. That agreement then serves to guide the divorce process when the family goes to court. Typically, the final agreement signed is a binding one, which means that neither spouse can take back their agreement unless they can prove fraud or other extenuating circumstances.

Agreeing to mediate divorce matters can be a smart move for those preparing for divorce. Yet, there is certainly nothing wrong with asking questions before committing to this particular approach – and the signed agreements that it generally requires.