My Mediation Background
In addition to being an experienced practicing attorney, and a family law specialist, I am a mediator certified by the North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission to conduct mediated settlement conferences in Family Financial matters (separation and divorce) as well as in Superior Court matters. I was one of the first mediators in North Carolina to be certified in Family Financial matters. I can provide mediation services in cases in Onslow County and the surrounding counties of Duplin, Jones, Craven, Carteret, Pender and New Hanover.
Mediation is particularly effective in helping to resolve disputes arising out of the separation of spouses. It is the most control the spouses will have as they move through the process of deciding about issues like spousal support and the division of property. The parties are given the opportunity to consider a wide range of alternative outcomes and to devise a framework that works for them.
The Mediator’s Role
The mediator’s role in the process, as a neutral, is to assist the parties in their discussions and in their consideration of alternatives. No mediator has the authority to impose a solution on the parties; and I understand that a mediated settlement agreement must reflect the needs and interests of the parties. Of course, important among those needs and interests is each party’s desire to find an end to their dispute, allowing them to move forward with more productive uses of their time and resources.
In North Carolina, parties to a contested action after separation, one filed in Court, must mediate their disputes in almost all cases, unless that requirement is waived; and Courts are very reluctant to waive mediation, as it has proven very successful in resolving cases. In these cases, parties often have retained counsel and the parties can select a mediator or have the Court appoint a mediator. This is how mediation began to grow in North Carolina, and all over the United States. In these cases, counsel will provide valuable assistance in gathering information and preparing the case for mediation and, later, for trial.
Voluntary Mediation Without Court Action
Parties who have made the decision to separate have another option; and that is to select a mediator before making the choice to retain counsel, and before a contested action is filed. The mediator’s role is the same as described earlier; but the parties, with guidance from the mediator, take on the responsibility of gathering information and preparing themselves to have informed discussions about the resolution of the financial matters which arise when a separation occurs, i.e., who gets the house, how is furniture and other personal property divided, including retirement assets, and who pays what bills. Also included are questions of whether support is in order for one spouse or the other.
Benefits of Mediation Without Court Action
The selection of a mediator before counsel is retained and before any Court action is filed can give parties the opportunity to minimize costs and maximize the preservation of assets. As long as the parties are well-informed about their circumstances, such mediations can bring resolutions with which parties can be very content.
I am available to serve as mediator in Family Financial matters whether the parties have retained counsel or not; and welcome the opportunity to be of service to parties, whether or not they are represented by counsel, seeking a resolution of such disputes with minimal conflict.