One small phrase in a meditated Separation Agreement makes life much easier post-divorce.
Mediating your divorce doesn’t just help you save time and money while you’re going through the divorce process.
It also helps you both in your post-divorce lives because a mediated separation agreement contains a phrase that isn’t in a traditional separation agreement:
“The parties agree that they shall first return to mediation, prior to filing a case in a court of competent jurisdiction.”
Why is this added terminology so important? Consider two scenarios.
Scenario One: You’ve hired two lawyers to obtain a traditional divorce. After paying each one a separate hourly fee and a retainer, you hammer out a separation agreement that divides your property about 50-50 and allows you both equal access to your kids.
The lawyers and judge move on to new cases. You and your ex are left alone dealing with post-divorce problems that you don’t know how to resolve:
Your ex-wife violated the separation agreement by having her new boyfriend sleep over while the kids were in the house:
You’re ex-husband won’t give you the key to the vault to get your engagement ring, because he claims you haven’t filled out the retirement forms fast enough.
He’s threatening to sue you in family court; She’s threatening to file suit in Supreme Court for a violation of the separation agreement.
You’re both bitter and angry, and your kids sense the tension.
Scenario Two: You use a mediator to arrive at the terms of your Separation Agreement. Same result: Fifty-fifty for property and access to the children. Except you and your ex finished the process with $100,000 more money (saved from attorneys’ fees) and negotiated the Separation Agreement in mediation in months, (not with lawyers back and forth over years).
Same fights erupt over the boyfriend and the engagement ring. But this time, you and your ex have a mechanism for resolving these post-divorce issues. You remember the clause that began: “Return to mediation.” And you return, knowing that mediation is a place where you can resolve your conflicts without attorneys, reducing acrimony, and bypassing court.