Please put it in writing.
Notwithstanding my urging that the participants write it down then and there, it is surprising to me how many recent mediations have resulted in a handshake agreement at the end of the session with the written settlement agreement to follow in the next day or days.
It is not surprising to me that many (not all) of these settlements thereafter unraveled in the day or days following the negotiation.
As I have written before, people are like rubber bands. See, https://karpmediation.wordpress.com/2013/07/11/imagery-in-mediation-the-rubber-bands/
By the time they have come to a consensus on the settlement in mediation, they have stretched beyond their comfort zones to reach agreement.
In that moment, they could sign a settlement agreement … if one were ready or if everyone were present.
But they don’t, and like rubber bands stretched to their limits, sometimes people cannot sustain the tension, and they snap back to earlier positions.
That is, sometimes they have second thoughts about their concessions.
Or sometimes, there is a Monday Morning Quarterback who, absent from the negotiation, nevertheless intervenes or interferes thereafter. See, https://karpmediation.wordpress.com/2012/05/26/the-monday-morning-quarterback/
Sometimes, people depart from the negotiation (prematurely) for their own reasons, so they cannot sign … because they are not there.
Sometimes, the settlement is too complex for a handwritten, on-the-spot agreement.
That is, sometimes there is consensus on the broad strokes of the agreement, but the details are left for a later writing.
And then there is no agreement on the details.
So much hard work goes into getting the parties to agree.
Please put it in writing and get it signed on the spot if the parties are satisfied with the terms they have just negotiated.
Maybe even do a draft in advance and bring it if you have some expectation of what the details might be so there is something to work with.
You will be glad you did.
David I. Karp is a full time mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California. For further information about him and his mediation practice, please go to http://karpmediation.com .