Anatomy of a Settlement Agreement

Divorce and Business Mediator, Sandy Balick, of Consensus Point Mediation LLC, explains how mediation and the settlement agreement work.[Time to Read: 2.9 mins]  Most marital mediations are started with the view of obtaining an uncontested divorce as expeditiously as possible. The marital Settlement Agreement is the vital bridge between the mediation process and the filing for an uncontested divorce.

All the give-and-take agreements reached in mediation, to be enforceable, must be detailed in a Settlement Agreement. This will become the primary vehicle by which the court will satisfy itself that important issues regarding children (if any, in the marriage or relationship) and property issues are satisfactorily dealt with. It will remain the document to which former spouses refer in order to confirm important details in the years ahead.

A straightforward (no children, not much property) agreement may be 20/25 pages in length, but there is no upper page limit. Many agreements must go into a fine level of detail in describing property agreements and parenting, including child support arrangements.

Many of the clauses reflecting these agreements are custom-designed. In addition to detailing child and property matters, the ultimate agreement will likely contain a number of clauses that have not been discussed at any length, if at all, in the mediation. These will address, among other things, the prospect of future disagreements on any of the subjects contained in the agreement; the state law to be applied in the event of a future disagreement over a part of the Agreement (New York usually); and in which venues, if other than New York, future disagreements may be brought in the event spouses anticipate living in different states. (Applicable law and venue for enforcement are two different issues.)

Another example is found in the modification clause that provides whether the Agreement may be changed by consent and the process by which any modification may take place.

A careful review process is an important part of the Agreement’s creation for, once signed, it is a legally enforceable document. It is not uncommon for the conversion of the basic agreements reached in the mediation, even where they are fairly detailed (such as in a parenting plan), to prompt some additional issues which will have to be discussed and resolved before the Agreement is ready for signing.

For more information on how the mediation and settlement agreement relate to one another, please give us a call.

Sanford (Sandy) Balick, Attorney & Mediator, NY Sandy Balick signature
Sanford E. Balick, Esq.
Founder & Principal Mediator
Consensus Point Mediation, LLC.

Phone: (646) 340-3434
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