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Mediation is a way to help you resolve your divorce, custody, alimony, and property disputes. It is also used to resolve disputes in other areas, as well. Ketan Soni is a North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission Certified Family Financial Mediator. Mr. Soni has participated in mediations as the mediator helping spouses resolve their disputes, as well as the attorney representing one of the spouses.
The wonderful thing about mediation is that it allows spouses to resolve their problems without having to go into a courtroom. This means the mediation process is confidential and that no judge needs to dictate what happens to the spouses going through a divorce. Instead, the spouses are the ones that get to control what happens to them.
The attorneys and non-attorneys that engage in mediation are also governed by statutes in North Carolina. What this means for spouses going through a divorce in North Carolina is that mediation is a confidential and protected way of resolving their disputes. Information about the North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission can be found at http://www.nccourts.org. This is the organization that governs the mediation process in North Carolina.
Mediation can be conducted with or without attorneys. The mediator cannot give legal advice and is only there to try to help the parties resolve their disputes. Therefore, it is highly recommended that a spouse consult with a family law attorney prior to entering into a mediation. This way, the party will at least know what rights they have available to them under North Carolina law.
Once at mediation, the mediator will explain the mediation process, explain that the process is confidential, that each party is responsible for half of the fees, and that neither of the parties may subpoena the mediator to testify in court about anything that occurred during the mediation. Next, the mediator will attempt to determine what issues the spouses are trying to resolve. This is typically done in a joint session. The mediator may then hold a “caucus,” which is a private confidential meeting with one of the parties and/or their attorney. The mediator may not give legal advice but may challenge the strength of any party’s argument that may be presented in court. Another great thing about mediation is that the parties may resolve the issues without resorting to what the law would do. Instead, they can agree to do what works best for their particular situation.
Ultimately it is the choice of the parties on whether to reach an agreement. The mediator cannot force the parties to reach an agreement and is there to facilitate communication and help resolve the issues, if possible.
If the parties are able to reach an agreement, they may sign and notarize a Memorandum of Agreement to finalize the issues.