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Is divorce mediation a binding process?

Alternative dispute resolution can let you handle a disagreement with someone else without going to court. Although most people know about mediation and arbitration because of business contracts, mediation can also be a very valuable tool for those going through divorce.

Rather than litigating all of the details, the couple works together in mediation and maintain control over the whole process. Some people have inaccurate perceptions about what mediation involves. Is it a binding process that leaves you with no options?

You have to approve the outcome for it to become binding

The idea that mediation is binding for the people who agree to it likely stems from confusion between mediation and arbitration. Arbitration often is binding, meaning that neither party can contest the decision made by the arbitrator overseeing the process.

Mediation is very different. There is no third party who gets to determine the outcome, and whatever agreements you do reach only bind you if you sign a document. The point of mediation is to find a solution for each of the issues you can’t get resolved in your divorce. Only after the two of you agree is there any degree of commitment. You will draft an agreement about the terms set in mediation and then sign that document. Submitting that to the courts will then guide the process in court.

If you don’t find a way to agree with your ex, you don’t get held to any of the earlier agreements that you reached in the mediation process. While you do have to reach an agreement for the process to benefit you, divorce mediation can be very useful for those who want a faster and cheaper divorce.