In N.C. mediation is required for certain parts of your divorce. Divorce mediation allows you and your soon to be ex-spouse to decide your own divorce and what is best for the both of you and most importantly, your children. In mediation, you and your spouse meet with a neutral third party, the mediator, who is normally a retired judge or a lawyer that is not participating in the case. With the help of the mediator, you and your spouse along with your attorneys (in most cases) will work through the issues you need to resolve your divorce. The idea behind mediation is that you can end your marriage as amicably and cost effective as possible. Mediation generally covers the following issues:
1. Distribution of Property (Assets/Liabilities): These are things like your cars, houses, loans, credit cards etc…
2. Child Custody and Parenting Time: During mediation you can work with your spouse to determine where your children will live and how you will parent your children after the divorce.
3. Child Support/Maintenance: Child support and alimony can also be something that is agreed to during mediation.
4. Retirement: Division of pensions and 401K plans can be negotiated.
5. Taxes: Who will pay the current years taxes and any tax burdens you have can be added to a separation agreement.
The mediator can help you and your spouse work out agreements on these issues, so that you don’t have to go to trial. Sometimes agreements come easy, sometimes they take time and a lot of work. It is the mediators job to keep the lines of communication open, brainstorm ideas, reality test the couple, teach empathy and assist the couple in their decision making process. Mediators help keep the couple focused on the issues at hand, trying not to get them off track. Typically, the mediator will meet with you and your spouse separately and listen to your concerns and needs. The mediator will also try to help you reach the best agreement possible. Because mediators are neutral parties they do not give legal advice.
Mediation is flexible and confidential. It gives you and your spouse a way to settle the conflict between you in a way that helps you to work together as parents. If you cannot settle your case at mediation, the next step is litigation. During litigation, different hearings or trials will be held before the judge who will ultimately decide how your property will be divided, who gets your children and for how often, the amount of child support, alimony, and any other issues related to your divorce.