I was recently afforded the opportunity and privilege to speak on attorney Audrey Thomas’s radio show, The Empowerment Hour, which airs every Wednesday night at 11 p.m. est. on 93.5...
Divorce Mediation and Settlement Agreements
Once a divorce mediation is conducted in New York, it is typical that the parties will enter into a settlement agreement whereby the agreed upon terms of the mediation are captured. If the parties then proceed to file for their divorce, or if the mediation occurs in the midst of divorce, spouses will file the agreement with the court and its terms will be incorporated into the Judgment.
For the most part, the agreement is binding on both parties and can be modified only in permissible instances (generally if there has been a substantial change in circumstances and the best interest of the child is at issue). Otherwise, if the agreement has been properly drafted, both parties will be required to adhere to its terms.
This has both positive and negative effects. On the positive side, mediation saves spouses time and money. Mediation also promotes a quicker resolve, one that does not impose as greatly on a person’s schedule as does the court system where spouses are at the mercy of the court’s calendar. In addition, mediation is also said to promote better communication and management of emotions.
However, in some instances it has been reported that spouses are disappointed with the terms of the mediated agreement and later regret not litigating their case. Spouses believe that litigation would have produced a more favorable outcome. However, this belief fails to take into account the fact that litigation does not ensure a more favorable outcome. The reality is that seldom in a divorce are the terms of either a judgment or a mediated agreement 100% satisfactory. The difference is that with mediation you can to some extent control and navigate the outcome for a much cheaper cost and in a quicker time period than in litigation. What’s more, most cases that are litigated eventually get settled out of court anyway.
One way to eliminate the concern is to hire an attorney to represent you at the mediation or in the very least hire an attorney to review the terms of the mediated agreement before it is signed. This will help to ensure that your rights are being protected and that your alternative options have been discussed and explored.
The above information has been provided for informational purposes only and shall not constitute as formal legal advice, nor the creation of an attorney/client relationship.