If you are considering divorce or have already decided to divorce, you may be wondering how to go about it most effectively and efficiently as possible. You may have heard of divorce mediation and wondered if it is right for you.
What is Divorce Mediation?
Divorce mediation is a process whereby a mediator facilitates communication between parties to a divorce to help them reach a mutually agreeable resolution. The mediator does not make decisions for the parties or tell them what they should do; the mediator’s role is to help the parties communicate more effectively so they can reach their own decisions.
The mediation process is confidential, which means that anything said during mediation cannot be used as evidence in court. This encourages parties to be more open and honest with each other during mediation, which can help them resolve more quickly.
Mediation can resolve all aspects of a divorce, including child custody, child support, alimony, and property division. In North Carolina, mediation is required in cases involving child custody and property division (known as “equitable distribution”).
Benefits of Divorce Mediation
There are many benefits to using mediation to divorce, including the following:
- It is typically quicker and less expensive than traditional divorce litigation.
- It allows you to maintain control over the decisions that are made rather than having a judge make them for you.
- It is generally less stressful and more amicable than litigation, which can be beneficial, particularly if you have children together.
- It can be flexible and tailored to meet the specific needs of your family.
- It can be used to resolve any outstanding issues, including child custody, child support, property division, and spousal support.
What are Mediated Settlement Conferences?
In North Carolina, parties to a divorce must participate in mediated settlement conferences before going to trial in cases involving child custody and property division. The purpose of these conferences is to encourage the parties to settle without the need for a trial.
During a mediated settlement conference, the parties and their attorneys will meet with a mediator. The mediator will help the parties communicate with each other and explore possible settlements.
If the parties are unable to settle for the mediated settlement conference, they will then proceed to trial. However, the fact that they participated in mediation may be used as evidence in court, and the court may consider the mediation when making its decision.
Why Should I Use an Attorney for Mediation?
Although you are not required to have an attorney present during mediation, it is generally in your best interest to do so. An attorney can help you understand the mediation process and ensure that your rights are protected.
However, please remember your attorney can only attend equitable distribution mediation with you but cannot attend child custody mediation. This is because child custody mediation is confidential and is handled by the county mediator. Your attorney would not be allowed to participate in child custody mediation if they were present.
The Divorce Mediation Process
If you are interested in exploring mediation as an option for your divorce, you will need to find a mediator who is experienced and qualified to help you. In most cases, mediators are divorce lawyers from other family law firms. This means they have experience handling divorce cases and are familiar with the law. Be sure to ask about their training and experience, as well as whether they have any specialty areas, such as child custody or financial issues.
Once you have found a mediator you are comfortable with, the next step is to begin the mediation process. The mediator will first meet with you and your spouse together to explain the process and answer any questions you may have. They will then meet with you and your spouse separately to discuss the issues that need to be resolved.
The mediator will help you identify the issues that need to be addressed and guide you through the decision-making process. They will also draft a Memorandum of Understanding for you to review. Once the Memorandum of Understanding is complete, it will be given to an attorney, who will draw up a separation agreement. The separation agreement is quite useful for couples going for divorce, especially those going for an uncontested divorce.
The Legal Help You Need
If you are considering divorce, you may be feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about what the future holds. The team at GPS Law Group in Charlotte, North Carolina, understands what you are going through and is here to help. We offer divorce mediation services so you and your spouse reach a fair and amicable resolution. If you are ready to begin the mediation process, contact GPS Law Group today at (704) 549-1950 or use our online contact form to send a message and set up a free consultation. We are committed to helping you reach a resolution that is in the best interests of you and your family.
GPS Law Group serves Charlotte, North Carolina, and the surrounding communities.