Mediation—A Court Process
In 1995, mediation became a court-mandated process in North Carolina. It’s part of the family court proceedings for equitable distribution of marital property. So even though mediation sounds like a kinder, gentler way to divorce, it can be quite brutal.
Practically all divorce mediators in the state are trained and certified to mediate cases that have been filed and are awaiting trial in court. Family court judges often order cases to go to a mediation session to see if the attorneys can hammer out a settlement with the help of a mediator because of the court’s backlog of divorce proceedings. If mediation is successful, the judge moves onto the next case. If not, the case goes to trial.
Divorce trial lawyers like mediation because it’s similar to preparing the case to go to trial. If the mediation fails, the case is off to court. Mediation is so popular today that it’s not unusual for divorce lawyers to recommend mediation—even before filing a lawsuit in court or before it is ordered by a judge.
Collaborative Law Proceedings—The New Alternative
In 2003, North Carolina amended its family-law statutes to recognize collaborative law proceedings. The collaborative law statutes require attorneys agree they will never represent either spouse in future court proceedings. Collaborative law proceedings are not part of the court system.
Divorce attorneys are slowly catching onto this advance in handling domestic relations cases. Frankly, many successful trial lawyers don’t like it. It’s too different from what they are comfortable doing—arguing cases in court.
But for couples and families facing divorce, collaborative law provides a viable option that relies on successful negotiation techniques. It’s also an option which gives parties full legal representation from attorneys during the settlement process.
Similar to mediation, parties only sign a settlement agreement when they agree.
Collaborative divorce attorneys believe in providing a supportive, rather than an adversarial, environment. Collaborative divorce attorneys believe in proven problem-solving tools and techniques, instead of antagonistic courtroom tactics and strategies. And collaborative lawyers believe in the power of collaboration. All attorneys agree to become part of a professional team. Their mission is to help reach a fair, amicable agreement.
If you are interested in learning more, call 919-324-3503 or watch our Divorce Without Drama video series.