By Divorce.com staff
Updated Feb 15, 2023
If you’ve successfully reached a mediation settlement with your spouse, the hardest part of your divorce is over. Many couples struggle to make important decisions when concluding their marriage. If you were able to successfully reach a full agreement in mediation, the rest of your divorce process will be relatively inexpensive and simple.
Here’s what you need to do after you’ve received your documents from your divorce mediator.
You’ll Receive Your Documents
During the process of mediation, your mediator will work to create a document you can use when you file for divorce. This document will either be called a Statement of Outcome or a Memorandum of Understanding. Your mediator will list your mutually agreed-upon solutions for all concerns regarding the settlement of your divorce.
If mediation concluded without full agreement from both parties, you’ll receive the mediator’s notes. You’ll take these notes to an escalated process of divorce, in which you and your spouse will work with lawyers to find solutions for your remaining issues.
Is Your Mediation Settlement Legally Binding?
Mediation isn’t a legal process. It’s an informal discussion between a couple and an expert who is able to inform them of the options they have at their disposal.
Your mediator can’t make anyone produce documents, and the process doesn’t take place under oath. Additionally, the mediator cannot make decisions for you. They can only keep track of your discussion and help you make decisions you both feel good about.
Your mediation settlement isn’t legally binding until you file for divorce using your mediation settlement. When you have a mediation settlement that both parties are in complete agreement with, you can file for an uncontested divorce.
Nothing is official or binding until you’re granted your divorce decree. At that point, the terms you agreed to in your mediation settlement will become enforceable.
You Can Proceed With an Uncontested Divorce
When you and your spouse have confirmation that you fully agree about the way your divorce should be settled, you can proceed with an uncontested divorce.
An uncontested divorce is the most simple method of divorce. You don’t need to hire lawyers or battle it out in court when you enter into the divorce process seeing eye to eye.
You Can Meet With a Lawyer or Prepare the Paperwork on Your Own
When you have your mediation documents and you’re ready to proceed with an uncontested divorce, the next part of the process is preparing the paperwork you’ll use to file.
Meeting With a Lawyer
You can give your lawyer a copy of your mediation agreement, and your lawyer can work with you to fill out the paperwork necessary to file for divorce. Your lawyer may ask you questions throughout the process, and they will give you the completed documents at the end.
It’s important to note that the same lawyer cannot represent both you and your spouse, even in an uncontested divorce case. If you would both prefer to be present for the process of completing the paperwork, you can’t use a lawyer.
The only alternative would be to have one spouse’s attorney work with that spouse to complete the paperwork and allow the other spouse’s attorney to review the paperwork.
Prepare Your Paperwork on Your Own
You don’t need a lawyer to file for an uncontested divorce. You can file a joint petition for divorce that you’ll both sign off on. No one needs to be served papers if you file a joint petition.
It should only take you about half an hour to input the decisions you’ve made in mediation. Then, we’ll automatically generate all the necessary paperwork for your state.
You don’t have to worry about using the proper forms or gathering everything you need, as we do that for you.
File Your Petition for Divorce
It’s easy to file a joint petition for divorce. Some local courts will allow people to file their paperwork and pay the filing fee online, all you have to do is check your local court for availability.
If your court doesn’t allow you to file for divorce online, you need to physically bring the paper to your local court and file it with a clerk.
If used a joint petition, you can bring your spouse with you to file. If you filed a separate petition, you need to serve the paperwork to your spouse. If you file separately, the court clerk may speak to you about serving the paperwork.
You shouldn’t need to use a professional process server or pay the sheriff’s office to serve the papers. Your spouse is expecting the papers and has worked with you to create an amicable divorce, so a third party is likely unnecessary.
Wait for a Court Date
After you file for divorce, you’ll receive a date in family court based on your local court’s availability. If your local court is busy, you can wait as long as three months for your court date. In other cases, couples are seen by the court within a month.
The court date itself is usually a simple process. Just dress in court-appropriate clothing and show up on time, and the appearance should go smoothly.
You and your spouse will both appear in court on this date if you filed for divorce jointly. If only one of you filed the paperwork, only the person who filed needs to attend the court date. You can both still choose to attend.
You shouldn’t have to do anything major to prepare for your court date. You’ll want to gather important documents, like an official copy of your marriage certificate and personal identification documents. If you have children, bring official copies of your children’s birth certificates, as the judge will ask to see them.
No one needs to hire a lawyer for an uncontested divorce. Most couples attend uncontested divorce court dates without their lawyers. You can choose to hire one if you feel comfortable, but there won’t be much for a lawyer to do in this situation. The judge will be the one asking the questions.
Attend Your Court Date
At your court appearance, the judge will review your uncontested divorce. You’ll each be brought up to the stand and asked to confirm very basic information under oath.
The judge may ask questions about your divorce settlement and ask you to confirm that you freely agree to the terms of your settlement and would like to move forward with it.
Judges will almost always grant an uncontested divorce. It’s rare that they will declare that a settlement is unfair. It almost never happens unless someone states on the stand that they don’t agree to something.
Since you and your spouse worked with a professional divorce mediator, you’ll be unlikely to encounter any snags. A divorce mediator knows how to satisfy a judge and get a divorce settlement approved in court.
Receive Your Divorce Decree
After your divorce hearing, the judge will grant you a divorce. You may receive your divorce decree on the same day if your hearing is quick and the court isn’t busy. If the schedule is packed, it’s likely that you’ll receive the official divorce decree in the mail.
When you have a divorce decree, you’re officially divorced. You can use your decree to change back to your former name. The process is the same as it was when you changed your name when you got married. This time, you’ll use your divorce decree instead of your marriage certificate when you work with the social security administration and the DMV.
You also need your divorce decree to refinance any homes or properties you were awarded in the divorce. If you’re the one keeping the house, your divorce decree is necessary for the bank to transfer ownership of the property to you.
You’ll need to produce your divorce decree if you ever decide to get remarried. It’s important to keep the document safe, even if you think you’ll never need it again.
Moving Forward After a Mediation Settlement
Divorce doesn’t have to be stressful or messy. By pursuing mediation, you’ve already made the process easier for yourself and for your former spouse.
After your mediation settlement has been completed, the hardest part is over. Now, you can proceed with an uncontested divorce and move forward into the next chapter of your life.