When it comes to settling disputes, mediation is often seen as a less formal and less expensive alternative to litigation. But is an agreement reached in mediation legally binding? The answer is yes, but there are certain conditions that must be met for the agreement to be enforceable. First, the agreement must be put in writing. This is essential for any legal document, and it's especially important when it comes to mediation agreements.
Without a written document, it can be difficult to enforce the agreement if one of the parties fails to comply with its terms. When you reach an agreement in mediation, it's important to make sure that your rights and interests are fully protected. To do this, you should consult with a lawyer right away to discuss the terms of the agreement. The parties' agreements in mediation are only final after each party has consulted with their lawyer for legal advice.
Once that happens, they can agree that the lawyers or the mediator will draft the contract that the parties sign to end their dispute. It's important that the contract contains a certificate from each party's lawyer stating that legal advice was provided. If either party reaches an agreement contained in the contract and then fails to comply with it, the court can make decisions based on the contract. Additionally, if you signed a prenuptial agreement stating that you would go through mediation if you wanted to end the marriage, skipping mediation could result in civil lawsuits or other penalties. It's also important to note that if the parties have agreed that the mediation will be private, or what is called a closed mediation, the mediator cannot be asked later on to tell what happened. The mediator is a neutral party to the process and cannot provide legal advice to any of the parties. Knowing the legal restrictions that mediation entails is extremely important before entering into a situation where a mediator is used.
While mediation is a less formal and less expensive process than litigation for spouses who are divorcing, you can still ensure that your mediation agreement is as enforceable as any other type of court order.