The mediation process has a wonderful healing quality to it. Letting go of bitterness, moving on, starting a new life, developing a commitment for good co-parenting, all are best served by working together in the safe environment provided by the mediation.
We find that totally keeping the parties separate, as in the caucus style of mediation
• makes both parties unnecessarily positional,
• adds to the time required for settlement,
• adds to the costs,
• steals power from the parties,
• retards healing,
• reduces future cooperation and
• lessens the prospect of successful co-parenting.
So we use a combination of the two approaches. We stay in joint session until it appears that it would be helpful to separate the parties to relieve tension or work on a specific issue in private. We often use both forms in the same mediation moving apart and coming back together as appropriate.
After all the issues have been resolved into agreement, the mediator will read the agreements out loud to be sure that everyone is in consensus. The Settlement Agreement is then drafted and may be signed at that time, or the parties may take the agreement to an attorney of their choice, for review before they sign the document.
Once the agreement is signed, it is irrevocable and cannot be changed without mutual consent.