x N. Lawrence Hudspeth III

Family Financial Mediation

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) and 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.

About Mediation

Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution. People who have a legal conflict who do not want to go through the ordeal of litigation can choose instead to use mediation to resolve their dispute. This process is non-adversarial, meaning that you and the other person involved in the conflict are not made into enemies against each other like you are in a court of law. Instead, the process is prefaced on the idea that you and the other party can identify your shared goals and work out a better solution to accomplish your objectives instead of having a judge who is not familiar with you make these decisions for you.

Mediation is beneficial 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 deciding about issues like spousal support and the division of property. The parties are allowed 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 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 parties’ needs and interests. 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.

My only motivation is to help you and your spouse reach an amicable agreement you are both satisfied with. As a practicing attorney, I know the unexpected outcomes that may arise out of a litigated case. Mediation helps you avoid these surprises and work toward your agreement. I can explain what the Court might consider when contemplating your legal issue and how mediation may provide a better alternative. 

Court-Related Mediation

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 issues. 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 decided to separate have another option; that is to select a mediator before choosing to retain counsel and before a contested action is filed. The mediator’s role is the same as described earlier. Still, 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.

Types of Family Financial Matters that Can Be Resolved through Mediation

As much as divorce or separation is an emotional process, it is also a process that involves many financial decisions that can affect you and your spouse for the years to come. Some of the financial matters you may be able to resolve through the process of mediation include:

  • Residency issues – You and your spouse can determine who will continue to live in the family home and whether access should be restricted to the other spouse.
  • Prenuptial agreement application – If you and your spouse entered into a prenuptial agreement, a mediator could help you walk through the agreement and determine which provisions you and your spouse will agree to apply and whether you want to adjust any other conditions.
  • Spousal support – A mediator can explain the legal justification of spousal support and the factors the Court weighs when ordering it and determining an appropriate amount of support. You and your spouse may make a different agreement than what the Court might, such as rearranging the division of your property or giving a lump-sum payment rather than an endless amount of monthly support.
  • Division of property – A mediator can help you, and your spouse identify your marital property subject to divorce or separation. He or she can help you reach a compromise on how to divide your real property, retirement accounts, furniture, financial accounts, and other personal property.
  • Payment of bills and debts – You and your spouse can also reach an agreement regarding which bills and debts each spouse will be responsible for.

Benefits of Mediation Without Court Action​

The selection of a mediator before counsel is retained and before any court action is filed can allow parties 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.

Additional benefits of mediation include:

  • Conflict is resolved in less time 
  • Family harmony is possible
  • You maintain greater control of the outcome  
  • You can reach any agreement you and your spouse approve
  • Your privacy is preserved 
  • You and your spouse can meet wherever and whenever is most convenient to you and the mediator

Mediation Services

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.