18 Jan The Mediator’s Role in Preparing Settlement Documents
While a verbal promise may be acceptable in certain situations, what happens when memories fade or circumstances change? Years later, the parties may disagree on what exactly was promised or how to apply the verbal agreement to changed circumstances. As a result, in most situations the agricultural mediation program encourages written settlement agreements.
Before drafting a settlement document, the mediator will first make sure that all parties fully understand and accept the terms of the settlement. If the mediator senses that a party is uncertain about entering into a settlement, the mediator may meet separately with that party to talk about any doubts or concerns they may have about the settlement and to make sure they only sign the document if they think its in their best interests after carefully thinking about it.
The mediator will also work with the parties to figure out how they would like to address reasonably possible changes in circumstances such as a temporary cash flow problem that may make it difficult to meet monthly installment payments. After all, a settlement where one or more of the parties ultimately cannot meet their responsibilities does not benefit anyone.
After checking in with the parties to ensure that they understand the settlement and how it would apply to their situation, the media- tor will draft the settlement document. Before the draft document is sent to the parties, staff from the agricultural mediation program will review the agreement for clarity and enforceability. Then the agreement will be sent to the parties. Parties are encouraged to have their attorney or accountant or other trusted advisor review the agreement. Once the parties agree on the final document, it is sent to them for their signature. Each party to the mediation will get a signed copy of the agreement.
After the agreement is signed and all the parties have a copy of the agreement the mediation is done and the work of the mediator is over. However, should there be any issue that arises over implementing the agreement, the agricultural mediation program is available to help the parties work things out.