Divorce in a Financial Crunch: Consider Private Mediation

Sep 3, 2009

Times are tight. Everybody is trying to find ways to save money in every possible area. If you need to separate from your spouse, or you have a child custody dispute or other family law issue complicating your life, you don’t have to wait until the economy picks up to address them.

One of the most popular ways to resolve family disputes without the expense of protracted court battles or even prolonged attorney involvement is private mediation.

Private mediation is when both parties agree to hire a neutral mediator to help them resolve their disputes. This saves money in that the parties are splitting the cost of one mediator instead of each paying their own attorney to reach a resolution. Further, the mediator’s job is to help the parties reach a resolution, instead of helping the parties go to war, as many attorneys will do.

The mediator frequently is an attorney that knows the family related laws in North Carolina. An attorney mediator provides great value by helping the parties reach an agreement that require less legal revision later. Non-attorney mediators can be very effective. However, agreements reached through non-attorney mediators sometimes requires significant revision to comply with the law.

The end result of a successful mediation can be a full separation agreement or settlement agreement. Some mediators prefer to draft a memorandum of agreement that sets forth the terms of the agreement, but is not binding on the parties. This allows each party to consult an attorney for the limited purpose of reviewing the terms of the agreement before it is made official. This has the advantage of maximizing the money spent on an attorney. The parties get expert legal advice regarding their agreement before they sign anything; but, they do not have to pay an attorney’s rate to negotiate the agreement itself.

The parties may hire their own attorneys at any point even during a private mediation. However, the most cost conscience clients only hire any attorney to review the agreement reached at a mediation. Their attorney can then educate the party on the legal effect of the agreement and identify any problems with the mediated agreement before the agreement is made official.

In addition to the substantial cost savings, parties often find that the anger and acrimony between them is lowered by the mediation process. Mediation forces the parties to work with each other to solve their problems instead of against each other. This is perhaps the biggest non-financial benefit of private mediation.

I am currently working with a client who went through the private mediation process. She and her spouse decided that they did not want to have an “ugly” divorce because of their teenage daughter. They chose a private mediator to help them sort through the legal issues. The reached an agreement and the mediator drafted a memorandum of their agreement. My client then hired me to review the agreement and draft a formal Separation Agreement. Her spouse also hired an attorney to advise him and to help finalize the agreement. She has been very pleased with the process and has saved thousands of dollars so far by choosing private mediation.

So, if you need to resolve family related legal issues in this difficult economy, you should strongly consider a private mediation. It can be an ideal way to resolve the issues while saving substantial legal fees.

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Tre’ Morgan is a North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission Certified Mediator, a licensed experienced attorney practicing family law and a member of the North Carolina Association of Professional Family Mediators. He offers private mediation services to clients who wish to resolve their family law disputes without the cost and emotional toll of an ugly divorce.

If you are interested in legal representation or mediation services, please contact me by email or at (919) 781-1311. You can also find me at www.nichollscrampton.com (this site currently being updated).

Please note that nothing on this blog should be considered legal advice and that viewing the information on this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between us. You are advised to consult with an attorney to confirm the current state of any legal information contained in this blog, as the law constantly changes.

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