The goal of the parties at the outset of any divorce mediation process in Arizona is to resolve the issues facing the parties, whatever they may be. At the conclusion of the mediation process, the parties generally want to memorialize the agreements they have reached in the form of a written, binding agreement (a contract). The mediator will assist the parties in writing up the agreement. Below are some tips to writing an enforceable agreement.
First, when drafting a mediation agreement it is important to take inventory of the parties that will be signing the document. To be a valid contract, the signer should have the mental capacity and the authority to sign, as well as be of the age of majority.
Additionally, a good mediation agreement should contain the following elements:
• The names of the parties and date of the mediation;
• A brief statement of the nature of the dispute;
• Agreements on how the parties will relate to each other in the future, and what responsibilities each party holds; and
• The date and signature of the parties (It is important to note that persons or organizations that were neither participants in the mediation nor signers of the agreement cannot be bound to the agreement).
The agreement should be written in clear, easy to understand language so that each party is clear as to the intent of the agreement. There should be a balance of provisions within the agreement, so that each party feels as though they are not only giving but also receiving something in the agreement.
Lastly, a good agreement should spell out whether the agreement addresses all or only some of the issues before the parties, as well as include a provision for how the parties will address any future conflicts that may arise.
Undoubtedly, the choice of a skilled and experienced mediator is a crucial decision, for if there is no agreement reached by the parties, there is no need to commit it to writing.
As always, a participant should seek the advice of an attorney if there are any questions about the legality of an agreement.
Alona M. Gottfried is a mediator and attorney in Arizona. If you have questions about mediation, she can be reached at: 480-998-1500 or firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a general interest article only and is not intended to be legal advice. See a legal professional before making legal decisions.
Simmons & Gottfried, PLLC
8160 E. Butherus Dr., Suite #7
Scottsdale, AZ 85260