When people think of divorce, courtrooms and heated battles come to mind. However, divorcing spouses are often able to settle their marital matters without going to court. Out-of-court settlement can save time, money and emotional stress.
Direct Negotiations & Settlement Conference
Divorce can be surprisingly stress-free when spouses are able to work together to dissolve their marriage. They may negotiate directly or through their attorneys to address and ultimately agree on all issues related to the welfare of their children, property distribution and financial support. In cases such as this, the divorcing couple stands to benefit by reducing legal costs, as well as emotional stress on themselves and their family.
Even in situations where direct negotiation prevails, it remains in the best interest of the parties to have legal representation to ensure that all aspects of the divorce are taken into consideration and that the agreement is documented legally according to North Carolina divorce law. Often, the parties’ settlement terms will be spelled out in a contract called a Separation Agreement and Property Settlement or in a court order called a Consent Order.
Many divorces in North Carolina are settled with the help of an independent mediator. In fact, in Wake County, parties are required to attempt an out-of-court settlement of their permanent financial issues (equitable distribution and alimony), as well as permanent custody, before they are allowed to present those issues to their assigned judge in a courtroom hearing. The attorneys at Close Smith Family Law are experienced at guiding their clients through the process of mediated settlements.
Divorce Mediation in North Carolina
In a mediation, the spouses and their attorneys meet with a mediator, typically an experienced family lawyer, who helps facilitate a settlement. The mediator is trained to help the two parties come to an agreement on contentious issues without having to go to court. Ultimately, the settlement is non-binding until signed by both parties, and either spouse may choose to reject the proposed settlement terms.
Divorce Arbitration in North Carolina
Arbitration is different than mediation. The arbitrator acts as a “private judge” who hears evidence and has the final say in the outcome of the case. The arbitrator is typically selected by the attorneys for the parties and will make binding rulings on the various issues in the case.