Divorce mediation is the most common method used when a divorce is imminent. Using mediation can help save you money and time when compared to litigation to the court system. Litigation using a lawyer and the courts can be very expensive even when the divorce case is relatively simple. Mediation gives the couple that is divorcing the chance to streamline the process and keep it all within their control. In the end the result is a personalized agreement that satisfies both parties.
Many people aren’t aware that divorce mediation is legally binding. The mediator will discuss the issues with the couple and the agreements are written up. The divorcing spouses then sign the divorce agreement and it is sent to the court to be approved by a judge. In many cases, the judge will just sign off on the mediated agreement and will draft a divorce order.
The Mediation Process
Mediation is a process that is straightforward and quite easy to understand. The couple that is divorcing meets with a professional mediator who remains completely neutral at all times. The mediator guides the couple towards productive conversations that focus on the issues at hand. The mediator cannot provide legal advice but you are able to seek the advice from a lawyer even when you are going through the mediation process. All of the conversations are kept strictly confidential and will never be subject to public record.
During the sessions the couple that are divorcing negotiate the divorce terms, which may include decisions regarding the division of property, child custody, child support and other topics as required. Creative solutions may be agreed upon that would never come up during the court process. The mediator can offer guidance and even suggest creative solutions but it is up to the couple to make the final decisions regarding the divorce agreement that will ultimately be signed by them.
Court Approval Is Required for Certain Matters
While you’ll be able to negotiate the terms of your divorce through mediation, there are specific matters that need to be approved by the court. For example, according to state law in California, child support and child custody can be mediated and a plan put in place but a judge must look over it and then approve it in order for it to be legally binding.
This should not deter you at all from creating an outline at a divorce mediation for a parenting plan. If it looks reasonable the judge should have no problem approving it and if there is any issue at all and the matter must be litigated, you’ll end up saving a lot of money and time getting this done. The reason that California law has been put in place for this matter is it protects the children’s best interests. When reviewing the plan the judge will ensure that the children have been taken into account when creating the agreement. The judge may also alter the plan accordingly before a formal support and custody agreement gets approval.
Can a Mediation Agreement Be Overturned at a Later Date?
This divorce mediation settlement that was agreed upon through mediation is the contract that is a part of the final divorce decree. It can be enforced legally and in order to change anything the matter must be litigated. If one party decides later on that the settlement that was mediated was unfair in any way, the matter can be taken to court. If this occurs, the party that claimed that something in the agreement wasn’t fair must show evidence to prove it.
If a person signs an agreement that was lacking pertinent information or was inaccurate in any way can take the matter to court. As well, overreaching, fraud, duress or the misrepresentation of facts can be considered to be grounds for overturning the mediated agreement.
In the vast majority of cases, however, issues don’t arise later on unless there has been a big change in one of the partners’ lives. For example, if an agreement was made and approved by the court for both parents to be provided with joint custody and have access to the child 50% of the time, this may need to be changed if one ex-spouse has to move to another state or even another country. The agreement would need to be modified to reflect any changes in living conditions.
Best Practices for Divorce Mediation near Me
In order to get the very most out of your divorce mediation sessions you should walk in prepared. Find out what types of documents you’ll need to provide and gather them up. There will be complex questions raised regarding financial and other topics so have as much information available as humanly possible. The better prepared you are, the smoother the negotiations will be and you’ll be saving a lot of time by being prepared.
You should also understand that the mediation will consist of negotiations between you and your partner. You may have to compromise on some issues in order to reach an agreement that could be considered fair to the both of you. Understand that you may not walk out with everything you want but you do not have to agree to everything presented. Negotiations will take place with a neutral mediator that can help guide you towards solutions that will work for everybody involved, including the children.
Mediated divorce agreements are legally binding contracts once they have been approved by a judge. Once this occurs, the only time the agreement may be revisited is when there is evidence to support that there were problems occurring at the time when the mediation agreement was signed. As well, if living conditions change, the agreement may need to be modified to meet the new circumstances.
When you’re looking for the fastest and easiest way to resolve your divorce issues, divorce mediation is the answer. When you search for “divorce mediation near me” and you live in the Southern California area, be sure to give us a call to schedule a free consultation.