I want to start this article by saying that I think mediation, on the whole, is a great way for certain couples to negotiate a divorce decree or to settle on a post-divorce modification. If a couple is wanting to settle a decree or modify it, but there are a few issues that are getting in the way, finding a solution through mediation can be a quicker, less rancorous, and less expensive way to settle it than the courtroom would.

For couples who can take a half-day or full-day in mediation to get terms worked out, mediation can feel like a godsend.

One issue that people don’t necessarily think about, though, is that a mediation session doesn’t necessarily mean that the divorce is final. Once a mediation is determined, the final decree still needs to be officially written and signed by the parties. Of course, at the Law Office of Lisa A. Vance, we look to work as quickly as possible following mediation to get the decree written, printed, signed by the parties, and off to the judge for approval.

It’s best to get a decree signed while what it took to get there remains top of mind for both parties, and it’s also possible that the more it lingers, the less confident someone might be in the terms agreed to in the mediation.

But sometimes, even if you and your lawyer are quick to move, your spouse may have doubts or new questions after the mediation that get in the way. In some cases, it can require the lawyer representing the more ready-to-go side to file a motion to finish the decree. While it doesn’t call for the same level of cooperation that a collaborative divorce does, it’s helpful for lawyers in a mediation to determine a realistic time frame for getting from a mediation to signed documents.

We make that a point of emphasis at the Law Office of Lisa A. Vance in our mediations. We value alternative dispute resolutions for the creativity they engender and the control they give each of the parties in determining the courses of their post-divorce lives. And yet, we also consider the most important word in alternative dispute resolution to be resolution. Without that, a mediation is just a conversation about how a divorce or modification might be settled.