Post-Decree Divorce Agreements
Post-divorce decree mediation typically happens when communication has broken down between the parties or one person wants to change a parenting schedule. Often the couple has settled into their life after divorce and are not running decisions by their ex-spouse or asking approval for decisions they are supposed to be making as a team. Like pre-decree divorce mediation, the parties may be ordered to mediate or may seek the assistance of a divorce mediator voluntarily.
Parents generally make divorce agreements based on their lives when they are getting divorced. It is a snapshot based on the ages of their children, where they are living, where they are working and what schedule work requires in terms of childcare. Several or many years later, a parenting schedule may need to be changed, the children may be involved in different activities or the parents may be working or living farther from each other.
Either party may request post-decree mediation. In fact, parties are required to mediate before taking parenting issues to court by filing any motion. Often the parties have not really had conversations about their children. When we mediate couples going through a divorce, we ask them to agree to sit down once a year to discuss parenting schedules, activities, issues the children may be having in school and any other concerns. This may not really happen. With the neutral family & divorce mediator facilitating the conversation, parents can express their positions and hopefully come to some new agreements or tweak things in their parenting agreement that are not working.
Any issue is appropriate for mediation after divorce. Possibilities include parenting schedules, concerns about differences between households like bedtime, homework or meal choices, financial issues like child support or spousal support and anything else the parties need help having a conversation about. Change in job or work schedule for parents may require a change in parenting time.
Changes in circumstances is always a time when parties can return to court to adjust parenting time, holiday schedule or anything else affecting shared parenting responsibilities.
Divorce mediation is appropriate for addressing these changes as well.
Coming to mediation voluntarily is always the best approach. Parties find that, even if their ex-spouse requests mediation and they are reluctant, or a court orders them to mediate, the outcome is often beneficial.
It is helpful if the parties bring a Joint Parenting Agreement (now called Joint Allocated Judgment) and Marital Settlement Agreement so the divorce mediator can see how issues were resolved in the divorce. If the couple mediated their divorce, they should also bring the Memorandum of Understanding. The family & divorce mediator might suggest other documents for future meetings, like pay stubs or tax returns if financial issues are being addressed.
Most likely, if agreements are made in post-decree divorce mediation, the divorce mediator will prepare a bullet point list of issues resolved in divorce mediation which the attorney can enter with the court as part of an agreed order. The parties can go to court on their own to enter an agreed order updating their divorce decree with the agreements reached in mediation.