Litigation is not the only way to resolve family law disputes. Mediation and arbitration are effective alternatives to court that are widely used in North Carolina to settle family law matters. These options allow parties to reach a settlement privately, without the court’s intervention.
Mediation consists of fairly informal meeting(s) between the parties, their respective counsel and a trained mediator to discuss and attempt to resolve all or some of the issues in dispute. In equitable distribution and other family financial case mediation proceedings, each party is typically represented by counsel. This is in contrast to the North Carolina Child Custody and Visitation Mediation Program wherein only the parties meet with the mediator.
In mediation for equitable distribution and other family financial cases, each party generally has a position or opinion regarding how the issues should be resolved, and a mediator works to facilitate the parties reaching an agreement. The mediator cannot represent either party and does not decide who is right or wrong or make a final decision like a judge at the end of a hearing or trial. Instead, the mediator works to help the parties reach a compromise. If a compromise is reached, an attorney for one of the parties generally drafts the settlement documents setting forth the agreement reached in mediation.
Arbitration is a requested and mutually agreed upon meeting wherein each party is represented by an attorney. Each attorney presents to the arbitrator at the arbitration hearing his or her client’s case and requests a ruling on the issues at hand. The arbitrator then makes a decision regarding the issues before him or her. In essence, it is a private trial and usually has the same formality of a court proceeding.
Unless the parties agree otherwise, a single arbitrator is chosen by the parties to arbitrate all issues in dispute. The arbitrator may hear and rule with regard to the evidence produced even if one of the parties fails to appear. Arbitration may be binding or non-binding depending upon the agreement of the parties. A court cannot typically order you to participate in a binding arbitration.
Choosing a Family Law Attorney
At Hatcher Law Group, we encourage our clients to resolve their family law matters through alternative means of dispute resolution, such as mediation or arbitration, whenever possible. Even when seeking an amicable resolution, dealing with legal issues affecting family life can be challenging. Our attorneys have represented clients successfully in numerous mediations and arbitrations. We are trusted advocates who are ready to help. Please contact us
to schedule a consultation with an attorney.