Written by Jonathan Breeden
Many couples going through a divorce or dissolution can benefit from using mediation during their cases. A mediator can help people solve disputes so they can reach an amicable resolution to their cases. You may hire a private mediator and begin the mediation process before even filing for divorce. You may also have the court refer you to court-appointed mediation services. Regardless of how you go about it, the person who mediates your case is a neutral third party whose chief interest is helping you resolve your case. A mediator will not favor one side over the other.
Because North Carolina is an equitable distribution state, couples who have petitioned for a divorce can elect to ask the court to divide their marital property. The court will split the property in a way that it considers fair, a view that may or may not be shared with the parties. If, however, a party takes an issue with the court’s distribution, there is not much that can be done – once the court makes the decision, it is final and may not be changed. If you would prefer to have more control over how your property is divided, but you and your spouse need help working out a fair settlement, it might be beneficial to work with a mediator.
A mediator will sit down with you and your spouse. If you have hired a divorce attorney, your attorneys will be present, too. The purpose of the mediation will be to go over all outstanding issues and try to come to a conclusion that will work for both parties. Couples should be prepared to share a list of finances, including assets and debts, with the mediator in order to make sure their mediator has all the information and can address all necessary topics. After each issue is discussed, if you and your spouse reach a mutually agreed upon resolution, the mediator puts it in writing so it can become part of your divorce or dissolution decree. If the mediation fails, it will be up to the judge to resolve outstanding issues.
The main reason couples might want to work with a mediator is to save money and time. Litigating a divorce can be a time-consuming process, which can eat up a lot of money in fees. If, however, you and your spouse can get together on neutral grounds to work out your issues, you could save yourselves time in court and thousands of dollars.
Another attractive feature of the mediation process is it gives you the chance to take your emotions off the table. Divorce can be complicated, causing couples to feel angry and bitter with each other. When you’re upset with someone, you’re less likely to want to work with them, which can leave you and your spouse arguing over every little detail without approaching any resolution. Mediators understand how volatile your feelings can get, so they will try to steer the conversation to keep it productive and avoid getting too personal. In order to get the full benefits from mediation, couples must be willing to communicate and make compromises.
A mediator can be a great help to your divorce process, but it’s important to remember that a mediator must remain a neutral third party. You should speak to a divorce attorney to have someone on your side. Your attorney will be there to look out for your best interests, and can help you throughout the mediation and divorce process.
Attorney Jonathan Breeden of Breeden Law Offices has spent over 20 years in the North Carolina courts both as a divorce attorney and has participated in countless mediations. He can offer his wisdom and experience to your situation as well. For help with your divorce, call (919) 661-4970.