Mediation in the Course of Divorce

Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution method where you and your spouse, as well as your respective attorneys, meet with a neutral third party mediator who works with both parties to assist in voluntarily resolving as many issues surrounding your divorce as possible.  These issues include decisions on child custody, child support, spousal support, the division of property (equitable distribution) and any other issue related to your case. The mediator attempts to find common ground between the two sides with the goal of coming to a binding agreement.  In North Carolina, mediation is a normal part of most divorce cases.

Mediation can be used outside of litigation or during litigation.  Outside of litigation, voluntary mediations are helpful in settling disputes before the expense, stress, and unpleasantness of a lawsuit are necessary.  In the context of litigation, mediation offers the parties an opportunity to reach a quicker, cost-effective, and flexible resolution of their disputes in which they have more control to determine the outcome than when a judge decides the case.  

The mediator has no authority to rule on any matters or decide anything that is in dispute.  The mediator is there to help the parties come to a mutual agreement. At mediation, the mediator works with the parties to identify the parties’ interests, differences, and common ground and works with the parties to find a compromise that allows the parties to get their legitimate needs met and move forward without the need for further litigation.  If the parties are able to come to a resolution, the agreement is put in writing setting out the agreements made during the mediation conference. If the parties are unable to resolve their differences through mediation, the litigation proceeds. There are protections built into mediation so that parties are not later cross-examined or confronted with statements they made in mediation if their case does not settle and ends up in court.

Although mediation lacks the formality of a court hearing and cannot impose a result on a party against their will, a party who is unprepared and uninformed risks wasting the opportunity or worse, agreeing to a bad deal.  An experienced Hill Evans Jordan & Beatty family lawyer will help you prepare properly for mediation, enter the process with a strategic plan, ensure that you only enter a deal that is in your interest, and ensures that when an agreement is reached, that is properly memorialized in an enforceable agreement that is customized with your needs in mind.  If the mediation is unsuccessful, as experienced trial lawyers, we will vigorously fight for you in court.

Elaine Ashley is a North Carolina Dispute Resolution Certified Family Financial Mediator.  She has the skills and experience needed to successfully mediate your case. She is available to serve as a mediator for any case involving divorce-related issues.   

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