South Carolina law requires mediation in almost all custody and/or divorce actions before the parties may have a trial on contested issues. As we have previously discussed, the goal of mediation is to reach a settlement agreement between the parties. When this happens, the agreement can and should be produced in writing and signed by the parties and lawyers.
Approving Agreements Over the Objections of One Party
From time to time, one party changes their mind and wishes to repudiate—or back out of—the agreement. When this occurs, the party wishing for the agreement to be approved may seek approval of the settlement agreement notwithstanding the other party’s objection. This makes sense; otherwise, the mandatory mediation loses much of its effectiveness in resolving disputes.
When one party attempts to back out of a mediated settlement agreement, the Court should approve the agreement if it finds four factors have been met:
- Is there an agreement?
- Did the parties freely and voluntarily enter into the agreement?
- Is the agreement fair from procedurally and substantive perspectives?
- Is the agreement detrimental to children? (only if relevant)
Why You Need a Strong Advocate
If you are involved in a divorce and/or custody case, it is important to have a lawyer who will advocate for you. If you have an experienced family court attorney by your side during mediation, you are less likely to be guided down the path where you would wish to back out of an agreement.
Likewise, if you need to enforce an agreement, an experienced family law attorney will know how to present evidence in such a way as to give you the best shot at having the agreement approved. Don’t go at it alone—there is too much at stake.
If you have questions about your divorce and/or custody case, please do not hesitate to call toll-free at 888-230-1841 and set up a consultation with an experienced family court attorney.