Is an agreement reached in mediation enforceable?

Posted By Adam Denton, Personal Injury,Uncategorized On July 23, 2016

Is an agreement reached in mediation enforceable?

The entire purpose of mediation is to resolve disputes or divorces without requiring a lengthy trial. This is only possible if the final agreement is a legally binding contract. Mediated agreements are enforceable in court when done correctly. It is almost the same as receiving a ruling from a judge. Here is what you should understand about the enforcement of agreements reached through mediation.

Creating a Binding Agreement

It is important to create a legally binding agreement during any mediation process before adjourning. This means you need to have signed documents before the mediation is completed. Although this sounds obvious, mistakes can be made. Some people who come to a tentative agreement in mediation will adjourn and rely on attorneys to write-up the final documents. This can lead to problems if one attorney adds or omits terms to the agreement forcing the other party to not sign it. An enforceable mediated agreement need to list all agreed terms and be signed by all parties involved.

Contract Enforcement

An agreement reached through mediated is just a contract between two people. If it is signed and written properly, then any court will enforce the agreement like a typical contract. This means that you can request the court order the other party to follow the terms of the agreement. The court can take actions such as awarding you financial damages or even more severe legal steps to ensure the terms are met. The agreement can be enforced aggressively for as long as it is valid or until all terms are met.

Challenges from Other Parties

One way some people attempt to get out of a mediated agreement is by presenting a challenge in court. If the challenge is successful, then all or part of the agreement will become invalid and unenforceable. The other parties involved might attempt to say you lied about information used to create the papers by failing to disclose something important. Claims might be made that the document was signed while under duress or through coercion. You might need an attorney to defend the agreement and yourself if a challenge is presented in court.

Ways the Contract Could Be Invalidated

There are some technical and legal reasons that a judge might decide not to enforce a mediated agreement although these are very rare. The judge might determine the signatures are invalid making the contract worthless. There could be terms in the contract that are not legal in the state. Multiple signed copies of the agreement might appear that each list slightly different terms. This rarely ever happens even though it is a possibility if you do not use professional mediation services.

Protecting Yourself against Problems

Agreements reached through mediation can sometimes be complicated especially when children or divorce is involved. You want to protect yourself against potential problems from the start. This means having a lawyer before mediation even begins. You can also have your attorney review the mediation agreement along the way. A lawyer will make certain that you are actually developing and signing a legally binding contract. Your attorney can protect against many different things such as agreements that change without consent. A lawyer will help to minimize any problems when you are reaching an agreement through mediation.