Is an Agreement Reached in Divorce Mediation Legally Enforceable?
Getting a divorce in California requires you to be aware of the laws the state government has in place to protect everyone’s rights. Today, not all jurisdictions require mediation, although it’s encouraged to help you develop a plan for how you and your spouse will share important responsibilities, such as child custody. Mediation also helps you divide your personal property and debts fairly. While mediation gives you more control over your situation compared to other forms of divorce agreement processes, it’s important to know when and how the decisions you make become legally binding.
Legal Restrictions that Apply from the Beginning
When you first file for your divorce, you’re provided with a form that explains what happens after the Petition and Summons are submitted. In California, you may not be able to do things such as take minor children out of the state until a custody plan is in place. You may also be prohibited from making major financial changes, such as cashing in an insurance policy. These restrictions are simply meant to keep your current situation in place so both parties have the same rights while working to reach a successful agreement.
Decisions that Are Made in Mediation
You already likely know you’ll need to make decisions about things such as child custody and the division of your property. However, you may also need to make decisions that apply to any special situations, such as who will take over your shared small business. Couples with pets may include them in custody and visitation arrangements, and you may need to figure out who is responsible for certain debts. When they use divorce mediators, San Diego couples can customize their divorce agreements to satisfy all their personal needs.
When Mediation Agreements Become Legally Binding
In the early stages of the mediation process, you and your spouse will make several decisions. While it’s recommended that you try to start living by the decisions as soon as you can to make sure they work, it’s not a legal requirement until the final agreement is signed and approved. Keep in mind you still need to abide by any legal restrictions that were in place during the petition process. When in doubt, consult with your mediator, who will know exactly what you can and cannot do legally.
What to Do if a Change Is Necessary
Going through mediation helps you avoid having to revise your divorce settlement, since you have as much time as you need to work things out with your spouse. However, changes sometimes occur due to unforeseen circumstances, such as a career change or a health issue that affects how you care for your children. In these cases, you can consult with your mediator again to begin the process of changing your agreement.
If you and your spouse want to reach a legally binding agreement while reducing the amount of stress and the costs involved in your divorce, the answer you’re seeking may be in divorce mediation. San Diego couples can have every aspect of their divorces handled without the need to hire attorneys, go to court, or spend a small fortune. To learn more about how divorce mediation can be the ideal option for you and your family, call the expert mediators at Divorce Options San Diego today at (858) 281-2628.