Posted 03/08/2017 16:38:00
Category: Divorce Mediation
In Virginia, under Virginia Code, a signed mediation agreement is binding and enforceable in the same manner as any other written contract. Specifically, Virginia Code Section 8.01-581.25 titled “Effect of written settlement agreement” states the following:
"If the parties reach a settlement and execute a written agreement disposing of the dispute, the agreement is enforceable in the same manner as any other written contract."
The customized arrangements that result from spouses discussing and exploring options in mediation specific to their needs can be amazing. These mutually acceptable results are not imposed on either party by the mediator - parties enter into them voluntarily. Not only are written mediated agreements legally binding, but studies show that agreements reached through mediation have a higher rate of compliance than those imposed by a court. It's not surprising that couples are more likely to comply with mediated agreements because they are their own, mutually accepatable, solutions.
Mediated agreements are customized to the particular needs of the parties and their family. Litigated agreements are not customized. In court, parties do not have the opportunity to coordinate their efforts on a future plan because litigation forces them to focus on the past. The cost of a mediated agreement is a fraction of the cost of a litigated agreement. The amount of time it takes to reach agreement in mediation is substantially less than in litigation. As an attorney I recognize the need for the adversarial process in certain cases, but I also understand its limitations.
So if your goal is to create a legally binding agreement that you can rely on in the future, mediation will serve you well.