What to Expect at Your Mediated Settlement Conference


What to Expect at Your Mediated Settlement Conference

In North Carolina, it is mandatory to attend a mediated settlement conference if there is a pending claim for equitable distribution.  Also called a Family Financial Mediation, this will be your formal opportunity to reach a settlement agreement with your spouse before your equitable distribution trial.  If this is your first time participating in mediation, not knowing what to expect can be nerve-racking. Read on below to find out what you can expect in your mediated settlement conference.

1. Attorneys are Allowed

Unlike custody mediation, in which attorneys are not allowed, you may have your attorney represent you at the financial mediation.  Your attorney should schedule a meeting with you to prep for the mediation.  By the time mediation is scheduled, you should have all the financial information from the other side. In your prep meeting, you and your attorney should use this information to create the terms of your first offer.  You should also ask your attorney any questions you have about mediation at this time.  Lastly, your attorney should talk to you about the pros and cons of settlement in mediation vs. moving forward with a trial.

2. You Shouldn’t See Your Spouse

Again, unlike custody mediation, you shouldn’t see your spouse while you are there.  The mediator will assign you and your attorney a separate room from the other party.  You will sit comfortably while the mediator travels between both parties’ rooms as terms are negotiated.  The mediator usually provides lunch for both parties as well as snacks and beverages.

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3. The Mediator Will Play Devil’s Advocate

The goal of any good mediator is to move parties towards compromise.  Your mediator should be an experienced family trial attorney who knows how judges typically rule on different issues.  The mediator will use this knowledge to play devil’s advocate with both parties.  After going over the pros and cons of your position with the mediator, you may decide you’re more willing to reach a compromise on that issue.

4. The Cost of Mediation Will be Split Equally

Typically, the cost of mediation is split equally between the parties.  However, you can agree otherwise in the Scheduling and Discovery Conference Order.  Or, you may negotiate the payment of legal fees during mediation.

Before the day of mediation, you should receive a contract from the mediator with a request to place a deposit into the mediator’s trust account.  You and your spouse will be billed equally at the mediator’s hourly rate.  Any money leftover after mediation will be returned to you.

Keep in mind, you will not only be responsible for your share of the mediator’s fees but for your attorneys’ fees as well.  Both of these fees usually become due at the same time close to the mediation date so it is important to budget ahead of time so that you are not overwhelmed financially.


Property division during a divorce is complex. If you are going through an equitable distribution case, you need competent representation. Contact our office today to speak with a knowledgeable family law attorney.


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