A separation and divorce can involve numerous issues that must be properly addressed: the division of property, spousal support, child custody, and child support. The legal process to resolve these issues can be costly. This is particularly true if parties cannot resolve these issues between themselves, if the disputes drag on, or if you have to take issues to trial. Because of prohibitive costs, the benefits of amicable agreements, and overloaded court schedules, it is to your benefit to make a good faith effort to resolve your disputes at mediation.
We encourage our clients to engage in mediation with an open mind, but we understand that they may have reservations about trusting the mediation process—or the point of trying to reach an agreement. Hopefully, the answers to the following questions can help illuminate how mediation works.
“Won’t Mediation Deprive Me of My Day in Court?”
You may believe that you have an airtight case and that a judge will side with you for sure; however, you can never truly predict the outcome of a trial. Judges are tasked with considering all relevant evidence and also deciding whether a witness is credible. Even cases that seem like “slam dunks” can turn in an unexpected direction. In addition to the time and expense of trial, pushing for that day in court may not be worth it if you can reach an agreement you are satisfied with.
“Why is Everyone Being so Friendly and Casual?”
Are people taking my case seriously? Mediation is an informal meeting between parties that courts will generally order parties to engage in. You may be caught off guard by: (1) a very friendly mediator as opposed to a serious judge; (2) a law office or conference rooms instead of a stuffy courtroom; (3) everyone dressed in business casual clothes instead of fancy suits and ties; and (4) opposing attorneys who seem to be on friendly terms instead of aggressive rivals. All of this is the nature of mediation and is really designed to facilitate a more comfortable environment in which to find some middle ground. A casual, comfortable setting is much more conducive to an agreement than a tense, formal courtroom setting.
“Won’t my words be used against me?”
While it is natural to think that your words or offers in mediation will be used against you in the future, this is not the reality of mediation. In fact, mediation proceedings are usually confidential, and the negotiations and offers made by the parties in an attempt to settle the issues cannot be presented to a judge as evidence in a hearing later. The reason for this confidentiality is that no one would choose to engage in mediation if their words and offers could be used against them to prejudice the factfinder against them at trial.
New Direction Family Law
If you are experiencing a separation, divorce, property division, alimony, child custody, or child support issue, you need an attorney. At New Direction Family Law, our attorneys have years of experience in providing smart, effective representation to clients who need help. This is your life and your future, and we want to make sure your voice is heard. Our provides representation to clients in Wake, Johnston, Durham and surrounding counties. Contact New Direction Family Law at (919) 719-3470 to schedule a consultation or reach us online through our website.
Sarah J. Hink
New Direction Family Law