Mediation Series: Part I

You’ve decided to separate from your spouse and think you’re on the same page about sharing time with the kids and dividing up your property. You do not want to spend a lot of money on lawyers and have heard that mediation may be a good way to resolve all issues. Is mediation right for you?

What is mediation and how does it work?

In short, mediation is a confidential settlement discussion between you and your spouse that utilizes a trained neutral third party to assist in trying to resolve your dispute. Parties can choose to attend mediation before going to Court or once their case is pending, and can attend with attorneys or without them. Sometimes both parties are in the same room for mediation sessions and sometimes they are in separate rooms where the mediator moves back and forth to discuss the issues and settlement proposals. If you have a child custody case pending in a North Carolina court, then you are required to attend mediation. If you have financial issues pending, then you are required to complete some form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), and mediation is a commonly used option.

Does the mediator represent me and my spouse?

No, the mediator is neutral, cannot represent either party and cannot give any legal advice.

What if my situation is more complicated? What if I am not on the same page with my spouse about parenting or timesharing schedules or who gets to keep which assets?

Mediation can be an effective way to reach resolution even if you’re at odds with your spouse on one or many issues. It’s not surprising that couples who have separated often have contrasting positions. However, through mediation and working with a trained professional, parties can effectively reach compromises that are better solutions than an order from a judge. This is because the parties are directly in control of the outcome in mediation and are in the best position to make such important decisions. Remember that you and your spouse know the most about your family, not a judge.


Dan Lewis is a family law attorney and certified North Carolina Family Financial Mediator. He represents clients in cases involving child custody, child support, equitable distribution, alimony, and domestic violence. He also serves as both a private mediator and court-appointed mediator. For more information about mediation, please contact us.