You’ve Waited This Long….But Are You

Prepared to Wait Some More?

As of today, the Mecklenburg County Courthouse has been reopened to the public for one week. To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the courthouse is taking extra measures to comply with all health and safety guidelines.

Courtroom capacities are now limited to 24 people, there are plexiglass barriers on the bench in front of the judge and clerks and on counsel tables to separate attorneys from their clients. Hand sanitizing stations have been installed at all high-traffic areas and those visiting the courthouse are strongly encouraged to wear a mask.

While this is a great turn of events after months of lockdown, it does not take away from the fact that there is expected to be a significant backlog in wait times for hearings and trials. It has also been confirmed by Chief Justice Cheri Beasley that there will be no jury trials held in North Carolina until at least August 1.

 With wait times mounting and impatience growing, some parties are considering alternative dispute resolution (ADR) to the traditional court process to resolve their disputes. Rather than waiting for a hearing that might take months to take place, parties can more quickly take advantage of ADR methods. Here are a few common ones:

1. Mediation – This is a confidential settlement discussion between parties that uses a trained, neutral third party to assist in trying to resolve your dispute. In mediation, the parties control the outcome rather than a judge.One of our attorneys, Dan Lewis, is a certified NC DRC Family Financial Mediator. 

2. Arbitration –In this method, a neutral person called an “arbitrator” hears arguments and evidence from each party and decides the outcome of the dispute. Arbitration is less formal than a trial. A neutral location is usually best for arbitration. There is now a newly constructed and private courtroom just above the Charlotte office! This new facility also offers multiple breakout rooms that can be used for all types of ADR.

3. Collaborative Divorce –This is a means of dispute resolution where parties and their attorneys agree to work together to resolve the dispute without involving litigation. North Carolina specifically recognizes this process as an alternative to litigation for those who do not want to go to court. Greg Hatcher and Dan Lewis are very experienced in collaborative divorce and are both members of the Charlotte Collaborative Divorce Professionals group. 

Apart from providing more flexibility, ADR is typically less expensive, less formal, and less time consuming than a trial.

 Contact us to speak with one of our experienced family law attorneys today if you or someone you know would like to learn more about alternative dispute resolution.