I hope everyone is having a great week. Here is your weekly newsletter from the Law Office of Stephen E. Robertson, your go to family law office and divorce lawyers in Greensboro, covering various legal matters and issues with which our clients are often faced. Our family law and divorce lawyers work hard to serve our clients and make sure they are aggressively represented and supported, so if you have any specific legal topics you would like to see covered in our newsletter, please don’t hesitate to send in your suggestions. We handle almost all family law matters, including divorce, child custody (including emergency custody), child support, and adoption. We can also represent you in any family law related criminal matters, including filing and defending Domestic Violence Protective Orders.
This week’s topic is family law mediation. Mediation is an important, yet often confusing, aspect of family law cases (e.g., child custody and divorce) in North Carolina. Under North Carolina law, people who are involved in a child custody dispute, including one related to divorce, are REQUIRED to attend court-mandated mediation BEFORE a trial can be scheduled. Mediation is a form of alternate (non-court) dispute resolution. It involves sitting down with a neutral third party (the mediator) and discussing how you would like to resolve your divorce or child custody issues. Mediation is confidential. The things you reveal during the mediation process are not admissible in court later, and it is more private than a court trial. Mediation is more flexible than court, as you can agree to a wide range of possibilities.
Divorce and child custody are both important and sensitive issues. You may experience tension and stress when facing these issues and coming to a mutually beneficial agreement can be difficult. A mediator is a trained professional whose job it is to help the parties communicate effectively while they come up with their own resolution to the issues. Except in private mediation (if approved by the Court), the mediator is paid by the court — and the mediation is free to you. The mediator will not decide who is right or wrong. The mediator cannot rule on your case but instead, can help both parties come to an agreement that is best for all involved, most importantly your child or children.
A good child custody parenting agreement will cover legal and physical custody, which basically means:
- Where the children will live
- The division of parenting time (e.g., weekends, mid-week visits, holidays, summer vacation and school breaks), and
- Who will have the right to make major decisions in the child’s life
Once a resolution of issues has been reached in mediation, the mediator creates a parenting agreement for the parties’ review. Once approved, a judge will sign off on your parenting agreement, thus making it an enforceable court order. *It is important to understand that child support will NOT be decided as part of the mediation (child support is determined under North Carolina’s Child Support Guidelines and is based on the specifics of your custody schedule; as well as the income of both parties).
You are only required to TRY mediation. If both parties cannot come to an agreement, your case can still go before the court where a judge will determine the terms of any custody order.
If you have any questions regarding child custody or mediation, please call our office to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced and caring Greensboro family lawyers, who also serve the greater Guilford, Rockingham, Randolph, Forsyth, Davidson, and Alamance counties and surrounding communities.