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The Importance of Communication and Collaboration in North Carolina Divorce Mediation

Date Posted: April 5, 2023 12:48 am

The Importance of Communication and Collaboration in North Carolina Divorce Mediation


As reported by the U.S. Census Bureau, the divorce rate in the United States experienced a decline from 3.6 per 1,000 population in 2018 to 3.2 per 1,000 population in 2019. Consequently, the total number of divorces in 2019 reached approximately 827,261, and the cumulative count of divorces since the year 2000 exceeded 8.3 million.

Several factors may contribute to the declining divorce rate in the United States. Some possible causes include:

  1. Changing attitudes towards marriage: Over the years, societal norms and values have shifted, leading to more cautious attitudes towards marriage. People are now more likely to take their time in choosing a partner, cohabiting before marriage, and marrying at an older age. These factors can contribute to more stable and lasting marriages, reducing the divorce rate.
  2. Economic stability: Economic factors can play a role in the decision to divorce. During periods of economic stability, couples may feel more secure in their financial situation, reducing the stress and strain on their relationship. In contrast, financial hardships can exacerbate marital issues and lead to higher divorce rates.
  3. Education: Higher education levels have been linked to lower divorce rates. Individuals with a college education tend to marry later in life and have more stable careers, leading to more financial security and stability in their relationships. Additionally, higher education can promote better communication and problem-solving skills, which can contribute to stronger and more resilient marriages.
  4. Access to counseling and therapy: Increased access to and acceptance of mental health services, such as couples counseling and therapy, have provided couples with the tools to work through their issues and resolve conflicts. By addressing and resolving underlying problems in the relationship, couples may be more likely to stay together rather than resort to divorce.
  5. Evolving gender roles: The changing dynamics of gender roles within relationships can also contribute to the decline in divorce rates. As couples embrace more egalitarian roles, sharing responsibilities for childcare, household chores, and financial management, the balance of power and expectations within the marriage may become more equitable. This can lead to increased satisfaction and stability in the relationship.
  6. Legal changes: Some states have implemented waiting periods or mandatory counseling before a couple can file for divorce. These legal requirements can encourage couples to take more time to consider their decision and potentially work through their issues, leading to fewer divorces.

While these factors may offer some explanation for the declining divorce rate, it is essential to recognize that the reasons for this trend are multifaceted and complex. Each couple’s situation is unique, and a combination of factors may contribute to the overall decline in divorces across the United States.

N. Lawrence Hudspeth III, Attorney at Law

814 New Bridge Street, PO Box 910, Jacksonville, NC 28541-0910

(910) 455-9921

Should North Carolina couples consider divorce mediation?

Divorce mediation is a highly recommended alternative to traditional litigation for divorcing couples in North Carolina, as it promotes a more amicable and cooperative process. By choosing mediation, couples can engage in open communication and problem-solving, which allows them to address their needs and concerns in a less adversarial manner. This fosters a healthier emotional climate for both parties, and significantly reduces the potential for long-lasting resentment or bitterness. Additionally, mediation can be particularly beneficial for couples with children, as it sets a positive example of conflict resolution and can help minimize the emotional impact of divorce on the entire family.

Another significant advantage of divorce mediation in North Carolina is the cost-effectiveness and time efficiency of the process. Traditional litigation can be incredibly expensive, with attorney fees, court costs, and additional expenses quickly adding up. In contrast, mediation is typically more affordable, as couples share the cost of a single mediator and can avoid lengthy court battles. Moreover, mediation provides a more flexible and personalized approach, allowing the parties to create tailor-made solutions that best suit their unique situation. This not only saves time and money but also empowers the couple to have control over the outcome of their divorce, ultimately leading to a more satisfying and equitable resolution for both parties.

The Importance of Communication in Divorce Mediation

The Importance of Communication in Divorce Mediation

Effective communication is essential for a successful divorce mediation process. According to the American Bar Association (ABA) “Participants in mediation report higher satisfaction rates than people who go to court. Because of their active involvement, they have a higher commitment to upholding the settlement than people who have a judge decide for them. Mediations end in agreement 70 to 80% of the time and have high rates of compliance.”  Clear communication and active listening skills were among the top reasons cited for a successful mediation outcome.

When divorcing couples communicate openly, they are more likely to find common ground and reach agreements that meet both parties’ needs. Effective communication in mediation involves:

  1. Active Listening: Both spouses should listen carefully to the other’s concerns, without interrupting or reacting defensively.
  2. Openness and Honesty: Each party should be willing to share their feelings, expectations, and concerns without fear of judgment or retribution.
  3. Respectful Dialogue: Both parties should avoid aggressive or accusatory language and focus on problem-solving rather than blame.
  4. Flexibility: Spouses should be open to exploring new ideas and solutions, even if they initially seem counterintuitive or uncomfortable.

The Role of Collaboration in Divorce Mediation

Collaboration plays a vital role in successful divorce mediation, as it encourages spouses to work together to find mutually beneficial solutions. Unlike traditional litigation, where each party seeks to “win” at the expense of the other, mediation focuses on cooperative problem-solving. This approach fosters a more positive and amicable atmosphere, which can lead to a more satisfactory resolution of divorce-related issues.

Collaborative practices in divorce mediation include:

  1. Joint Problem-Solving: Instead of focusing on their own interests, spouses should work together to identify shared goals and values, helping them find creative solutions that meet both parties’ needs.
  2. Compromise and Negotiation: Both parties should be willing to make concessions and find a middle ground to reach mutually acceptable agreements.
  3. Prioritizing the Best Interests of the Children: When dealing with child custody and support issues, spouses should prioritize the best interests of their children, ensuring that decisions are made with the children’s well-being in mind.

Benefits of Communication and Collaboration in Divorce Mediation

There are numerous benefits to adopting a communication and collaboration-focused approach to divorce mediation in North Carolina. These benefits include:

  1. Cost Savings: Divorce mediation is often less expensive than traditional litigation, as it avoids court fees and reduces the need for multiple attorney consultations. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers in 2016, the average cost of mediation was $5,000 to $9,000, compared to $15,000 to $30,000 for a litigated divorce.
  2. Time Savings: Mediation can typically be completed in a few months, whereas traditional litigation can take a year or more to resolve. This allows both parties to move forward with their lives more quickly and reduces the emotional strain associated with prolonged legal battles.
  3. Greater Control: In mediation, spouses have more control over the outcome of their divorce, as they work together to reach mutually agreeable solutions. In contrast, litigated divorces often result in decisions being imposed by a judge, which may not fully address the unique needs and circumstances of each party.
  4. Improved Co-Parenting Relationships: Collaborative communication during mediation can help divorcing parents establish a more positive co-parenting relationship post-divorce. This is particularly important when children are involved, as it allows for more effective communication and cooperation in raising the children.
  5. Increased Compliance: Studies have shown that mediated agreements have a higher rate of compliance than court-ordered judgments. According to a 2012 study published in the Family Court Review, compliance rates for mediated agreements were between 80% and 90%, compared to 40% to 60% for litigated decisions. This is likely because both parties are more invested in the outcome, having actively participated in the negotiation process.
  6. Emotional Well-being: The collaborative and communicative nature of mediation can reduce the emotional stress and hostility often associated with divorce litigation. This can lead to a more amicable post-divorce relationship between the parties, which is particularly beneficial when children are involved.


In conclusion, effective communication and collaboration are crucial components of the divorce mediation process in North Carolina. By emphasizing these principles, divorcing couples can reach mutually satisfactory agreements while minimizing the financial and emotional costs of traditional litigation. In turn, this fosters a more positive post-divorce environment and promotes healthier co-parenting relationships for the benefit of any children involved. As divorce rates remain significant in North Carolina, it is essential to promote communication and collaboration in mediation as a viable alternative to the adversarial nature of traditional divorce litigation.