When you’re going through a divorce, attorneys fees and other expenses related to litigation can be tough to manage. Having to dig into your retirement or take out loans to finance fees related to your divorce can be a tough pill to swallow. North Carolina requires mandatory family financial mediation in most scenarios in order to provide litigants an opportunity to resolve their divorce out of court. Settling your case in mediation is beneficial to both parties as it alleviates the stress associated with divorce litigation and will save both parties thousands of dollars.
Family disputes can be emotionally charged and difficult to navigate. In North Carolina, family law mediation offers a path to resolving these disputes outside of the courtroom. Mediation can be a less stressful, less expensive, and more efficient way to resolve family law matters. In this blog, we will explore what family law mediation is, how it works in North Carolina, and why it may be a good choice for families seeking resolution.
What is Family Financial Mediation
Family law disputes, such as divorce, child custody, alimony and property division, can be incredibly stressful and emotional for everyone involved. In North Carolina, one approach to resolving these disputes is through family law mediation. Mediation is a process in which a neutral third party, known as a mediator, assists parties in reaching a mutually acceptable agreement.
During a mediation, the mediator will set up both parties in separate rooms with their attorneys and move between rooms to craft and communicate settlement offers. Frequently a mediator has to spend more time in one room than the other due to the uniqueness of each participant and potential issues, however this is not an indicator that the mediator is unbiased. Discussions between parties and the mediator are not confidential and can be shared in the other room, unless you expressly ask that certain information not be shared. You should plan to spend at least a full day in mediation. It is helpful to bring items to occupy your time as well as there tends to be downtime in mediations when the mediator is in the other room.
North Carolina has a court-ordered mediation program for certain family law cases, including equitable distribution, child custody, and child support. However, parties can also choose to engage in private mediation outside of the court system.
Family financial mediation specifically covers the financial aspects of divorce cases, including equitable distribution (i.e., property division), alimony, post-separation support and child support. Family financial mediation is mandatory in many counties when these claims are filed by either party.
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Benefits of Mediation in Divorce Proceedings
There are many benefits to using mediation to resolve family law disputes. First, mediation is less expensive and time-consuming than going to court. In court, parties are at the mercy of the judge’s schedule which can result in your case getting continued for months while you continue to accrue lawyer’s fees. Mediation allows parties to work together to create their own agreement in a less formal setting, which can be tailored to their specific needs and circumstances.
Another benefit of mediation is that it allows parties to maintain control over the outcome of their dispute. In court, a judge will make the final decision, which may not be satisfactory to either party. In mediation, parties have the opportunity to negotiate and come to a mutually acceptable agreement with terms tailor made to fit your family’s specific needs.
Mediation can also be less adversarial than going to court. In court, parties may feel like they are pitted against each other in a battle to win. Mediation, on the other hand, encourages cooperation and communication between parties. Parties are more likely to be satisfied with the outcome of the mediation if they feel like they were able to work together to create a solution.
Finally, mediation can be less emotionally taxing than going to court. Court proceedings can be stressful and emotionally draining, especially for families going through a divorce or custody battle. Mediation provides a more relaxed and informal setting where parties can openly communicate with each other and the mediator.
In North Carolina, mediators are trained and certified by the Dispute Resolution Commission. They are neutral and do not take sides or provide legal advice. Instead, mediators facilitate communication between parties and help them find common ground. Mediation does require compromise and sacrifice by all participants in order to reach a settlement
J. Patrick Williams is a Certified Family Financial Mediator with the NC Dispute Resolution Commission. Patrick has over 17 years experience handling family law matters in Wake, Durham, Johnston, Harnett and surrounding counties, including high conflict custody cases, complex equitable distribution issues, alienation of affection, child support, and alimony. Patrick’s real world experience, knowledge of North Carolina law, and his calm demeanor can assist you in resolving your divorce claims out of court.
Our firm offers virtual mediation remotely via Zoom or in person at our Raleigh offices. Call us today to get available dates and reserve your mediation.
In conclusion, family law mediation can be a beneficial alternative to going to court in North Carolina. Mediation allows parties to save time and money, maintain control over the outcome, reduce adversarial feelings, and minimize emotional stress. If you are facing a family law dispute, consider mediation as an option to reach a mutually acceptable agreement.