Going through mediation to resolve your divorce could spare you stress and a lot of legal bills. Still, you may wonder if a court will respect your mediated settlement, particularly if you have to go to court later on over issues such as spousal support. The good news is that mediated settlements can be as enforceable as court judgments.
FindLaw explains the key factors that make your mediated settlement valid in the eyes of the law. Generally, it comes down to two important requirements.
The consent of both parties
Once you have worked out all the issues with your spouse and there is nothing further to deal with, you and your spouse will sign the agreement. Your consent is important as you must go along with the agreement of your own free will. Without your signature, the mediated solution will lack legal validity.
The approval of the court
After you and your spouse have signed the agreement, it is up to your local family court to give the agreement final approval. Fortunately, a mediator can be of vital assistance. A mediator who is also an attorney may prepare and file all the needed documents for the divorce process, including disclosure documents, the agreement and other final papers.
Having a legally prepared mediator is especially important since a judge may not approve a divorce settlement that does not follow state family law. Though your mediator cannot give you legal advice, a mediator should know if a settlement will violate legal standards before filing the papers.
Discussing legal matters with a mediator
If you are not clear on how the law will look at your proposed solution, be aware that mediators can give information about the legal system. While divorce mediators cannot have a bias toward any party involved in the mediation, they can clarify points of discussion and help you understand when a mediated solution might not stand up in court.