If you are seeking a divorce in North Carolina, you will likely be required to participate in the mediation process. Mediation may either be private or provided by the Courts, and private mediation is one of the most effective and efficient methods to resolve your separation. Mediation provides the opportunity to have a skilled mediator and your attorney guide you through the often painful and lengthy separation process. It is an alternative to the often painful and contentious litigation process. While litigation is sometimes necessary, mediation allows you to have input on the outcome of your case. If mediation is not successful, we are ready to fight for you in court.
The mediation process begins when one spouse files a request for mediation with the court. This request is filed at the same time as a complaint for divorce or separate support and maintenance and must include the names of each party’s attorney if represented.
The Preliminary Meeting
You and your spouse will meet with a mediator to go over the basics of mediation and determine whether mediation would be right for your situation. The mediator will also provide information about the statutory framework for divorce in North Carolina.
The Statutory Framework
North Carolina has adopted “equitable distribution” for property division in a divorce, which means that marital property will be divided equitably (but not necessarily equally) between the parties. Separate property that spouses owned before the marriage will remain separate. If the couple has children, the court will make decisions about child custody and visitation based on what would be in the best interests of the children involved.
The Process Itself
After the parties agree on the order of events, they’ll talk about their biggest issues and concerns together as a group. They’ll discuss their goals for negotiations during mediation and what they hope to achieve during the mediation itself. At this point, the mediator will read over the parties’ agreements about how they want to do things going forward, which is why it’s sometimes referred to as pre-mediation counseling or pre-mediation preparation meetings. The parties will then decide on strategies and tactics for achieving those goals; in other words, how they want to negotiate during the mediation itself and what tactics they want to pursue each step of the way. This is where you get full-blown negotiation sessions between you and your spouse.
Mediation Is Confidential
All communications between you and your spouse during mediation are confidential. This means that any information disclosed in mediation cannot be used as evidence in any other court hearing (and vice versa). However, there are some exceptions to this rule: you may need to disclose information regarding child abuse or domestic violence. If this is the case, your mediator will let you know before your first session begins.
With mediation, you decide when and where the negotiations take place. You get to choose who you want to mediate with. Furthermore, you don’t have any say in the location or timing of your negotiations. You don’t get to pick which judge will oversee your case. You can’t influence the venue of where your case is heard.
With mediation, you can keep your private information private. You won’t have any public records about your case for anyone to see. With litigation, there’s a public record of your case, and anyone can look at it including reporters, friends, and family members.
Less Time and Money
Mediation tends to be faster than litigation because the couple gets to set their own schedule, and there’s no waiting around for a judge to make a decision. With litigation, there’s no guarantee when the divorce will be final because it’s at the discretion of a judge who has many cases on their docket. Mediation is also less expensive than litigation because it doesn’t require as much time from legal professionals and doesn’t have court fees associated with it.
It Is Usually Better for the Children
For couples with children, divorce mediation can also have lasting benefits for their kids. Children whose parents get divorced tend to do better with mediation because they don’t have to hear their parents speak poorly of each other in court or wait long periods of time for their parents’ case to be heard by a judge. One important note: if your marriage has dealt with domestic violence issues or if one spouse has been controlling and manipulative throughout your relationship, mediation may not be the best course of action. A North Carolina family law attorney can advise you on the best way to handle the divorce process in your specific situation. Custody battles can be one of the most stressful events to go through in life. Divorce mediation gives you a way to keep your own emotions in check and keep the focus on what is really important: your children’s lives, if you have kids, and your own ability to move forward with your own life. At Freedom Law | North Carolina, we have extensive experience with all aspects of the divorce process, including mediation, and are ready to help you. Contact us today for a consultation.
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