NYC divorce and family mediator, Jennifer Safian of safian-mediation.com discusses what happens in divorce mediation process after an agreement has been met.I asked Rachel Fishman Green, Esq, who drafts many of the legal documents for my separating or divorcing clients, to describe the process once they have reached an agreement in mediation.  

  1. After you have reached agreement in mediation, and the terms have been summarized in a Memorandum of Understanding, those points have to be written into a legally binding contract.  This contract is sometimes called a Separation Agreement (if you are not planning to file for a divorce at this time,) a Stipulation of Settlement Agreement, or a Divorce Agreement.
  2. Once you sign an Agreement, you are legally separated. All property earned or acquired by either spouse after signing the Agreement is considered the separate property of the title-holder, with no claim available to the other.
  3. The next thing you have to decide is whether you each want to have a separate consultation with an attorney. The attorney will review your Agreement to make sure it is in accord with what you have agreed to, and that you understand your legal rights.
    • Many couples go to mediation to avoid adversarial attorneys, and choose not to have a review attorney, because of the additional cost. Others choose to meet with a separate attorney for various reasons including:
      • Lack of confidence that they fully understand the legalese
      • A desire to be thorough – cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s
      • They don’t have to worry about finding something out 2-3 years later that they didn’t fully understand, and/or they gave up rights which they now may regret
      • Preventing one party from claiming at a later date that he/she did not understand what he/she was signing, and wants to try to set aside the agreement.
  4. Following the review, I would prepare the court papers to be filed for a divorce, file the Summons with the court, and purchase an Index Number. Once the action is begun and the Summons is filed, you and your soon-to-be-ex can sign the 4 copies of the Agreement and the court papers all at once, which settles the Action, turning it into an uncontested divorce.
    • Sometimes, after reviewing the uncontested papers, the judge will request additional information from the parties. I would prepare and re-submit this information at no additional cost, as it would be included in the flat fee that I charge for preparing and filing the uncontested papers.
    • If you are signing a Separation Agreement, and not planning to file for a divorce at this time, then you would just sign 4 copies of the Separation Agreement.
  5. Timing for the processing of the divorce is difficult to predict, because it depends on the administrative organization of the court system.
    • A few years ago, divorces in Brooklyn were taking 6-8 weeks, and then suddenly started taking 14 months!
    • Lately, divorces in Manhattan have taken 2-4 months to be signed. However, it takes an additional 2-4 months for the Judgment to be available for pick up.

If you have any other questions about what to expect once your Agreement is signed, feel free to contact us or leave your question in the comments box below.

Jennifer Safian

jennifer safian. divorce and family mediator
divorce and family mediation
upper east side of manhattan (nyc)
new york, ny
(212) 472-8626
info@safianmediation.com
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