Are agreements reached in mediation legally binding?

Question: Am I reading correctly that any agreement reached in mediation is NOT legally binding?

So a court must set an agreement in place for it to hold water?



Each state has different provisions which control the rules and procedures for domestic cases.  I do not practice in Ohio, so I cannot answer your question as Ohio law applies.

However, generally, any agreement that is reached should be submitted to the Court as a Stipulation with a request to incorporate the agreement at the Judgment of the Court.  Absent a Court Order, the agreement cannot be enforced through motions to compel or contempt.  This is why all agreements should go through the Court.  Even if an agreement is submitted by the parties, some States permit a party to withdraw the agreement so long as the Judge has not signed the Order.

Therefore, you shouldn’t consider your agreement final until the Court signs the Order.


Erica Christian is an Associate Attorney in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, office of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. She is licensed to practice law in the state of Wisconsin. She is a member of the Wisconsin Bar Association, the Family Law Section and the Children’s Law Section.

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One comment on “Are agreements reached in mediation legally binding?

    State is Wisconsin. My ex-wife and I went through mediation after our divorce to come to an agreement on 50/50 physical placement; the mediator sent it to the court and they signed off on it. In that agreement, my ex-wife wanted me to pay 50% of daycare costs effective from the date that order was signed by the judge, January 20th.

    In the meantime, the orders for child support reduction. variable costs, health insurance, etc. is unsigned by my ex-wife, me, or our attorneys–since my ex-wife got what she wanted already, what’s to stop her now from not agreeing to the child support reduction or anything else?

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