A common way the question (Are Mediation Agreements Enforceable?) arises is illustrated in the following example: Parents are trying figure out reasonable ways to allow both to have quality time with the kids. Hurt feelings on one side or concern for the child’s emotional state during this time may have impeded a win-win understanding. In their case, one parent has been unreasonably limiting the children’s contact with the other parent, or one parent has been attempting to cut off the other parent completely from seeing the children. Hence, the family matter case was opened up at court. The ex-spouses come together at mediation, which is a required part of the family law process, and agree to a Mediation Agreement allowing a certain level of contact with the children. Soon after the ink is dry on the newly minted Mediation Agreement, I would receive a call from a parent who feels that the other parent is not providing contact with the children as per the Mediation Agreement, which then prompts them to ask the question (are mediation agreements enforceable?).
The short answer to the question (are mediation agreements enforceable?) is unfortunately, no, Mediation Agreements in a family law matter are not considered binding until the terms are incorporated into a formal family law Order, which is signed by the Judge and entered into the court’s record. However, this does not mean that the parent who insists upon breaking the mediation agreement will not face any consequences of their actions.
In Maine family law, both biological parents have the right to have contact with their children. Going through Mediation is supposed to help both parents to learn to work together again. Maine family courts like to see families who come to an agreement and then stick to it. However, families are far from perfect. The parties can still fall back into old habits from before the mediation. But now that there is a Mediation agreement in place, falling back into the old habits of keeping the kids from the other parent will not work in that parent’s favor.
Non-compliant behavior after a mediation agreement could reflect poorly on the parent who broke the mediation agreement. When an Order on Parental Rights and Responsibilities is being considered by the Court, the Mediation Agreement terms are usually incorporated by agreement into the official family law Order, otherwise the Court would hold a hearing and make the determination itself. Then it is this Court Order that is enforceable by law.
Family law cases require sensitivity and advocacy. Our determined legal team is committed to help you reach the best possible outcome in your family law case. If you or someone you know is having family-related legal problems, I encourage you to contact The Nielsen Group for your free legal consultation with an experienced Maine family law attorney. We will take the time to answer your questions and to put your mind at ease.
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