What is Mediation? 

Mediation is a useful tool that is frequently used in all litigation matters, including divorce. Mediation is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) which occurs in private away from the pressure of a courtroom. Mediation occurs when a settlement conference is held with both parties and a neutral third party, the mediator, to resolve issues in dispute. Normally, a mediator will be an experienced attorney, retired judge or other trained professional. Mediation can occur at any stage in a divorce, before either party begins litigation or during litigation. 

Custody Mediation

North Carolina requires parties to attend a custody orientation and custody mediation if an action for child custody is filed. This mediation session is held by the court’s Custody Mediator who is an employee of the Court system. The only issue that the mediator will address at this mediation is child custody, and only the parties and the mediator are allowed to attend. If any agreement is reached, the mediator will prepare a parenting agreement reflecting the agreed upon terms. Parties are then afforded an opportunity to review the agreement with their respective attorneys before signatures are required.  This process can be waived for parents who live more than seventy-five miles from the court or for parents who have had issues of domestic violence or for other good cause.  

Mediation in Equitable Distribution or other issues

Once a lawsuit for equitable distribution is initiated, the court will require the parties to attend a mediated settlement conference prior to trial. An experienced mediator can be chosen by the parties or appointed by a Judge.  Attorneys attend this mediation with their clients. The fee for the mediator is usually split between the parties unless otherwise agreed upon or determined by a Judge. Unlike custody mediation, this mediation can deal with all outstanding issues, such as equitable distribution of property, custody, child support and spousal support. 

The Benefits of Mediation. 

A skilled mediator has the ability to assist parties in disputes by providing a non-biased open line of communication between the parties and offering non-prejudicial solutions to resolve the disputes. The additional benefits of using mediation include: 

  • Mediation is more economical than litigation and can save thousands of dollars in legal fees.   
  • Mediation is less time consuming than litigation. 
  • Mediation allows you to retain control of the outcome and make creative solutions that work for your unique situation. 
  • Mediation is confidential.
  • Mediation can be less emotionally exhaustive than a trial. 

Do I need an attorney? 

Our attorneys have participated in numerous mediations with many different issues. We have an extensive understanding of the mediation process and can ensure that you are properly prepared to discuss all settlement options and avoid unnecessary litigation.  By being skilled negotiators we listen to the details of your case and advocate for your rights to create solutions that work for your unique situation in a peaceful settlement environment. 

At Stroud and Panetti, P.C., we have over 30 years of experience in representing and protecting our clients’ interests in the Winston-Salem area. We are accomplished family law attorneys who can provide you with effective legal representation throughout the entire divorce process. If you are in need of an attorney to assist you in a mediation, or the entire divorce case, call us today for consultation at 336-724-2600.