When you think of resolving legal issues with a divorce, you may first think of the images you have seen on television and in movies of couples battling it out in the courtroom. Most modern divorces do not follow that path, and many divorce cases do not involve litigation at all. More and more spouses are looking for ways to resolve matters on their own and without the intervention of the court.
One of the most common ways that divorcing couples achieve this goal is by mediation. Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) that helps parties resolve matters on their own terms, and without the court taking control of the outcome. Mediation can be used to resolve one or all issues in a divorce, which may include:
- Division of property, assets, and debts
- Spousal support (also known as alimony or maintenance)
- Child support
- Child custody and visitation
The more issues that can be resolved through mediation, the more time, energy, and money a divorcing couple can save during the divorce process. If you are interested in exploring out-of-court options to resolve your divorce, find out how a St. Louis Mediation expert can help you.
The Mediation Agreement
The end-goal of divorce mediation is to reach an agreement between spouses about how to resolve issues that have not yet been settled. You may need the help of an experienced St. Louis Divorce Attorney in such a case.
Even if spouses cannot reach an agreement through their own discussions does not mean it isn’t possible. Often, a third-party neutral mediator can help to facilitate discussion and cooperation enough to bring the parties to a mutually agreeable resolution.
When divorcing spouses decide how to resolve a particular issue – or all of the relevant issues – the resolution is set out in a mediation agreement. This agreement should be drafted by your attorney and will be a legally-binding agreement. The agreement will mandate how they divide property, child custody, and more, just as a court order would.
Mediation is More than Just Settling Your Case
When you enter mediation, your goal may be to reach a mediation agreement so you do not have to bring an issue before the court at trial. While mediation is a cost-effective and less adversarial way to resolve divorce issues, it is important to remember that mediation is much more than simply a way to settle a divorce case. Instead, mediation should result in a long-lasting agreement that encourages emotional and financial health and well-being for everyone involved.
First, mediation sets outlasting arrangements when it comes to child custody. It is a top priority for most parents to plan for the best interests of their children in a divorce, and to keep things amicable so they can engage in healthy co-parenting in the future. Mediation can take all of these goals into consideration and help to reach an agreement that fully supports these objectives.
Because mediation agreements are binding, you should always ensure you reach an agreement that you are willing to adhere to for years to come. When it comes to custody arrangements, your mediation agreement should represent the wishes of you and your spouse when it comes to the well-being of your children. You should always make sure to have a highly skilled and experienced divorce mediator on your side who will ensure you do not agree to anything that does not make sense for the long-term.
Enforcing a Mediation Agreement
Even though mediation agreements are meant to last, there may come a time when your ex-spouse violates the terms of the agreement. A mediation agreement is based on the principles of contract law, which allow you to take legal action for breach of contract. You can also include a mediation provision in the initial agreement, which requires you to return to mediation to resolve a breach instead of heading straight into court. These are all factors you should discuss and consider with your divorce attorney.
Mediation is not for everyone, though it does benefit many people who are facing divorce in many ways. Mediation can help save money and foster healthy co-parenting long into the future. Because mediation agreements are long-lasting, you should always take the process seriously, and you should never agree to any terms that are unfair, unreasonable, or impractical in your specific situation.
Learn More about How a St. Louis Divorce Mediator Can Help in Your Situation
Mediation can help to divorce couples reach an agreement where both parties can walk away feeling like they have won. This less-adversarial and the collaborative process can often reduce the chances of future conflicts and result in a lasting agreement. At J. Rench Law Firm, LLC, we are committed to helping people negotiate divorce agreements that protect their rights. Call 314-725-4000 or contact us online to schedule an appointment and discuss how our approach to divorce and mediation may benefit you in your situation.