Divorcing couples usually have significant conflicts. Otherwise, they would not want to divorce. However, divorcing couples can often achieve forward-looking resolutions of matters in dispute with the assistance of a skilled family law mediator.
Mediation is a form of dispute resolution. A mediator acts as a neutral third party and works to help the divorcing couple find areas of mutual agreement. The objective is to help divorcing spouses come to terms regarding how they will handle significant matters after their marriage is dissolved. Mediation seeks to avoid the stress, extra time and expense involved in litigation of multiple issues.
Attorney Charles R. Ullman focuses his practice exclusively on domestic law matters and is certified by the North Carolina State Board as a Specialist in Family Law. Charles R. Ullman & Associates has more than 20 years of experience representing family law clients in Wake County. If you are considering mediation to resolve issues that arise during separation and divorce, consider Charles R. Ullman & Associates. Charles Ullman will take the time necessary to understand your family circumstances and find workable solutions to conflicts.
Raleigh Family Law Mediator Facilitates Negotiations
Mediation is a conversation between a divorcing couple that is guided by an attorney who serves as an objective third party. Couples may be referred to mediation by the North Carolina courts or they may choose to start mediation on their own to try to work through issues arising with the end of a marriage.
A divorce mediator can help couples resolve such challenging marital issues as:
Unlike an arbitrator, a family law mediator does not hear evidence and testimony and then decide who is right and wrong. Instead, a mediator functions more like a go-between who facilitates negotiations between two people who would likely have difficulty working things out on their own. The mediator’s role is listen carefully to your concerns and those of your spouse and to guide the discussion in a constructive path toward resolution.
Mediators are trained to identify the real points of contention and focus the negotiations on ways to resolve those conflicts and move beyond them, as opposed to fighting old battles again. The focus shifts to how the parties will interact in the future as a divorced couple. That is especially important when children are involved. Sometimes, changing the focus in this way reveals common objectives in what the two people want.
Reaching agreements on the easily resolved issues first allows you to move onto the thorny issues. Mediators can also help couples clear up misunderstandings and zero in on priorities and find the issues where there is room for compromise.
When it comes to what you feel most strongly about, the mediator can offer you a realistic, objective assessment of your positions and how well they may play out. A skilled mediator knows North Carolina law and how the legal system works in your jurisdiction.
A mediator attempts to help couples reach acceptable compromises. Unlike a judge, a mediator does not have the authority to impose a decision. Mediation offers you a chance to have control of your future.
Advantages of Using a Lawyer During a Mediation Process
There are numerous advantages to trying family law mediation, including a less stressful setting and lower cost.
- Couples take an active role in deciding issues such as child custody, child support, distribution of assets and spousal support rather than having a judge impose a decision.
- Mediation takes place in a comfortable, informal setting—unlike the formality of a courtroom. It’s about reaching acceptable compromises rather than winning or losing.
- Couples have the flexibility to set the schedule and set time limits.
- The family law mediator is neutral and does not represent either side as legal counsel.
- The couple can choose whether to have their lawyers attend the session. If you have your attorney present, your attorney can assist in the process by offering the legal advice you need and being sure that any agreement protects your legal rights.
- Mediations remain confidential, whereas the court is an open forum. Couples can discuss matters more freely in mediation than in court without worry that the details of their married life will become public. Only the settlement is filed in court.
- Child custody mediation ensures that decisions about children are made by the people who know the child best rather than a judge. It allows parents a chance to make decisions together regarding their child and the child’s upbringing.
- Mediation is generally less costly than resolving issues through litigation in court.
- Couples are more likely to abide by the terms of a settlement if they voluntarily agree to a compromise through mediation.
- Mediation settlements, if signed by all parties, can result in binding agreements and court orders requiring each side to comply.
- Mediated divorce agreements typically require fewer modifications, which avoids future legal expenses.
- You still have a right to present your case in Wake County Family Law Court if you are dissatisfied with the mediation settlement.
Mediation is a Flexible and Informal Process
Unlike courtroom proceedings, mediation is generally flexible and more informal and less adversarial. The sessions are typically held in a conference room. You don’t have to follow procedural rules, and you have more time to present your side and tell your story. This is very important to many people who are in the midst of a split-up.
Many contested divorces in which spouses have previously been unable to find a middle ground can be settled with the help of a skilled mediator.
Some people might be concerned that his or her spouse will try to dominate the negotiations. Family law mediators are sensitive to the balance of power and will take steps to address dominating behavior, including ending the mediation if the offending spouse will not cooperate.
Is Mediation Always Appropriate?
There are some situations where mediation is not appropriate.
Mediation may not be effective in cases in involving domestic abuse or in which one spouse is an alcoholic, drug abuser or has significant mental health issues.
In cases where one party has a restraining order or a domestic violence protective order, it is essential that the mediator be informed of that beforehand.
If you are not certain whether hiring a Raleigh mediation lawyer is a viable option in your divorce, contact us today. The legal team at Charles Ullman & Associates can discuss the mediation process and explain what you can expect.
Reaching a Resolution During a North Carolina Mediation
Many family law mediations result in a resolution. But you are under no obligation to sign a settlement agreement. You still have a right to have your case heard in court. In some instances, mediation will end with agreement on some issues, while other matters remain unresolved. A partial resolution is fine, and the unresolved issues can be left to further negotiations or trial.
In most North Carolina counties, divorcing couples are required to mediate issues related to child custody and equitable distribution of assets before going to trial. Mediators are trained to help parents have a discussion about their child’s needs and reach an agreement if possible. Although you are required to participate, there is no requirement that the mediation be successful.
If you have questions about whether mediation can help you and a spouse resolve divorce issues with less acrimony, speak with a knowledgeable Raleigh divorce attorney who does family law mediation.