HOW CAN MEDIATION HELP ME?
What is Mediation anyway?
This is a great question! Many people misunderstand Mediation and its purpose. To break it down, Mediation allows a couple to arrive at a settlement with the help of a Mediator. Your Mediator is a neutral, third-party whose job is to help you settle your case. Frequently, Mediators are lawyers, or others trained in dispute resolution.
Sometimes people get confused with the fact that a Mediator does not give legal advice so keep in mind that a Mediator cannot replace your lawyer. Your Mediator guides you and your spouse through negotiation to help you reach an agreement on the issues involved in your case. The Mediator doesn’t take sides, but acts only as an advocate for settlement. It’s your lawyer’s responsibility to make sure you are protected legally throughout the Divorce process.
Why is Mediation better than Court?
Mediation will cost much less than filing a lawsuit and litigating. Generally, each party pays for their own legal fees and half of the Mediator’s fee, but the cost of mediation will be less than those associated with filing a lawsuit, doing all the paperwork, attendance at Court hearing, and ultimately going to trial. Mediation generally take place with both people present. As a result, this process avoids the time, expense, and confusion of passing messages back and forth between lawyers.
Mediator make a difference because they assist both parties in focusing on the real concerns and interests at the heart of the Divorce. They add an impartial voice to the conversation as they guide each person to an understanding of what solutions will work best given the situation. In addition, they can make sure each person’s position is clear. This third party to add clarity avoids misunderstandings that can lead to rage instead of resolution. Already in Court? Don’t worry, Mediation is mandatory in North Carolina for cases that involve Property Division.
We’re already in Court. What now?
If you’ve already filed in Court that’s not a problem. North Carolina law requires couples to attend Mediation in the cases that involve Child Custody or Equitable Distribution. The good news is Child Custody mediation won’t cost you anything. The bad news is Equitable Distribution mediation will, but, as mentioned above, you’ll likely split the cost of the Mediator with your spouse, save time away from work, save money on attorney’s fees, and, most importantly, heartache. In the long-run Mediation is a great way to settle difference with your spouse, and ultimately your Divorce case.
Can a Mediator handle special circumstances?
Even if you have special circumstances such as a closely held business, Retirement Plans or Pensions, or other more complicated assets to divide? If so, a Mediator can definitely help, but you may need to hire additional consultants, such as an accountant, to aid in the Mediation process. You also want to make sure you have complete information on the complex assets that are part of your case before you go to Mediation or reach a settlement. It’s important to have all the information before you reach a settlement because agreements reached in Mediation are almost always binding. There are no re-dos once you reach a agreement.
Does Mediation always work?
Like most things in life there are no guarantees. This is especially true when one person holds serious concerns about the other’s truthfulness with information (this is usually related to financial concerns). In these circumstances Mediation may not work without the additional step of filing litigation. Also, if there is a history of abuse, medical problems, mental issues, or substance abuse, you may not be able to settle in Mediation. Even without any of these special circumstances, some cases simply do not settle in Mediation. However, most of the time, when two people enter the process of Mediation with honesty, a desire to reach a settlement, and a skilled Mediator, this method works, and works well.
Sounds great! How do we start?