The mediation process is confidential. This means that with limited exceptions parties cannot testify in court as to what was said during mediation. Generally the mediator cannot testify in court as to what was said during mediation. The mediator’s notes cannot be used in court as evidence.
Exceptions to the confidentiality rules of mediation involve threats of criminal activity, and threats of violence to elders or children. Under these circumstances disclosure is required. Another exception to the confidential nature of mediation is when an agreement is signed at mediation, and thereafter a spouse attempts to set aside the agreement. Once a settlement agreement is signed the protections afforded by the confidential nature of the mediation process have less significance.
If you and your spouse agree to settle the case, the attorneys will draft an agreement for signing at the mediation conference. Once the document is signed it becomes a binding contract.
The benefits to mediation are that you retain decision making ability as to the outcome of your case. In contrast, if you reach an impasse at mediation, or do not settle prior to trial, the unresolved issues are set for trial. At trial a third person government employee, called a judge, will determine the outcome of your property and children for you. You will not have any decision making ability over your future. These decisions will be made for you by the state government and the presentation of your case will be limited by the rules of evidence and rules of civil procedure.