Mediation is very common in divorce cases and in child custody cases. It is probably the most used tool in resolving issues between spouses and parents. I’d say it is even more common that going to Court. It seems odd to me that many clients don’t know what mediation is. That’s probably because I am involved in mediations all the time and have been for years so it is a pretty standard part of being a family law attorney for me. For most other people, except perhaps some executives, mediation is something that they would never spend a moment thinking about.
There are two basic kinds of mediation: private mediation and court-sponsored custody mediation. The custody mediation program at the Court is a requirement for anyone with a custody case. Before you have a custody trial, you have to go to mediation to try to resolve it. There are no lawyers involved, there is no cost, and Wake County provides the mediators at the courthouse. Some people can get an order from the court exempting them from this mediation, but that typically requires some sort of mental illness or domestic violence to be an ongoing problem.
Private mediation is perhaps the best tool that you can use in any divorce case. In private mediation, you and the other side choose a certified mediator who is usually an experienced attorney who had has some specialized training. You bring your attorney, your spouse brings his or her attorney, and you meet at the mediator’s office. Most of the time, the two parties sit in separate rooms and never see each other. The mediator goes back and forth between the two rooms with offers and counteroffers from the two sides and tries to get to a compromise. If there is an agreement, then the mediator and the lawyers will usually get it in writing and get it signed before the mediation concludes.
Cases that go to mediation, at least for me, settle most or all the issues 75 percent of the time, especially when the issues are financial. There is just something about bringing everybody to an office and making them sit down and explain what it is they are looking to get that helps people get to a resolution. I always recommend mediation when it is a possibility. You should always consider mediation first before walking into a courtroom. If it resolves your case, it will save you thousands of dollars and guarantee that you get an outcome that you can at least live with even if you don’t get everything you want.