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Mediation is often viewed as a less costly and more effective type of divorce proceeding. While not for every couple or situation, mediation can result in an amicable separation that enables both parties to get their life back together as quickly as possible. At the same time, there are some legal concepts and realities that each partner in the marriage must understand before entering mediation. Failing to observe this can result in even more emotional and financial stress that compounds an already difficult life event.
Signed Mediation Papers Become An Enforceable Legal Contract
Many couples wonder how enforceable a mediation agreement becomes once signed. In other words, can one party change his or her mind after the papers have been signed? To answer this question, one just has to be reminded that an agreement reached during mediation becomes a legal contract. This answer speaks volumes. It means that neither party can change the contract with incurring the possibility of legal action, particularly if the other party in the separation disapproves.
For mediation that has been court ordered, the agreement is filed with the court as soon as both parties have signed off on it. Thus, it becomes a matter of the public record and is binding from a legal perspective. This is what makes it enforceable. If either party were to try to change the agreement, or fail to live up to the terms of the agreement in any way, then he or she may be held in contempt of court. At that point, breaking the contract could result in a court imposed fine, and even arrest in extreme circumstances.
Consequences Of An Out Of Court Mediation Agreement
Many divorce proceedings involving mediation take place outside out of the court system. This often occurs when the two parties involved desire a peaceful separation and enter into the process with few arguments or settlement arrangements to decide. It is viewed as a less expensive and far less time consuming path towards divorce. At the same time, the papers that are drawn up to and agreed to when mediation is complete still forms a standard legal contract that needs to be honored.
The law does become a bit muddier in cases of mediation that take place out of court. If one party breaks the agreement that was reached, the only individual in the case will have to go to court in order to have the arrangements enforced. This is exactly what both parties were hoping to avoid in the first place, but there is little option if one party wants to change that papers after they have been signed. In such a case, the court will almost certainly rule that the party who broke the agreement is at fault, and that will also entail that individual having to pay any damages incurred for going against the terms of contract.
Mediation is a great way to reach a quick and efficient divorce settlement with limited fuss and expense. At the same time, it needs to be taken seriously. Neither party should feel coerced into signing the settlement papers at the end of a mediation session. Once they are signed, however, all people involved need to remain mindful that their signature enters them into a legal contract that cannot easily be broken.