Are all cases appropriate for Mediation?
If both parties agree to mediate, all types of cases can be successfully mediated. If one party refuses to agree to mediate, hiring attorneys and court litigation is your only option. Additionally, if either party is likely to hide assets, wipe out accounts, spending and hiding funds, etc., you need an attorney who can go to court for temporary restraining orders to prevent that.
What type of cases are best for mediation?
Mediation is best for families who want to preserve civility in their relationship. For parents, the ability to co-parent, often for a decade or more, means that you want to take special care with how you handle your separation and divorce. If you want a private, efficient, and fair resolution, mediation is ideal for you. Because we use an online, virtual platform, it is also ideal for people living far apart, who have to travel for work or for families who would feel more comfortable not being in the same physical location.
What is the cost?
The cost depends on how many issues we need to resolve and how many times we have to meet. Most families will pay approximately $1000 for mediation services. Our standard practice is to have the mediator review your detailed questionnaire, schedule a 3 hour mediation session, and then draft the summary of the agreement. Exact pricing will be provided upon scheduling and if more than 3 hours of sessions are needed there will be additional cost. All payments must be made in advance of the session but can be made in 1 lump sum or split between the parties. We also offer a bundled service where you pay in advance for a licensed NC attorney to draft the legally binding agreement. If you do not reach agreement, the attorney fee portion will be refunded to you. Using the bundled agreement, most families can mediate and obtain a binding agreement for approximately $1,500.00
If we reach agreement, will you send us legally binding documents?
NC law does not allow any mediator to draft the legally binding documents. You have two options. First, you can purchase our bundled service where a licensed NC attorney joins our session, obtains the information necessary to prepare the legally binding agreement and drafts it right then. The agreement will be sent to you with detailed instructions for signing it and having it notarized. If you don’t reach agreement, the attorney fee portion will be refunded to you. This must be selected in advance so we can schedule your session for a time the attorney will be available. The attorney will explain to you the limits of her representation as one attorney is limited when providing services to two parties. In other words, she can not tell you that you should sign the agreement because of NC law and then give the same type of advice to the other party to the mediation. If you want that type of independent legal advice before signing the agreement, the following option is for you. Her representation will be limited to drafting the agreement you reach in mediation into legally binding form.
As an alternative, we will draft up a detailed summary of your agreement that is comprehensive, clearly worded and sent to you in soft copy. You can then have an attorney of your own review it and that attorney can draft the legally binding documents, can prepare deeds for the transfer of any real property, and can prepare the court orders to divide certain retirement accounts. Even though you still may have to hire an attorney to draft the legally binding documents, you will spend pennies compared to what you will spend in a court battle or even the time and money you would spend for back and forth negotiating by two lawyers. We guarantee the detailed summary we send will be clear and concise and will comprehensively address all assets and issues disclosed to us in the questionnaire.
Can you help us with parenting disagreements?
Yes. Brooke is a NC parenting coordinator. She was previously appointed by the court to help parents in high conflict divorce and separation to co-parent. She can help you negotiate regarding areas that give families the most conflict, such as living arrangements, visitation schedules, communication, exchanges, discipline, etc.
What is the process?
In order to mediate divorce or other family conflict, both (or all, if applicable) parties have to agree. If both of you agree, input the requested information in the “contact us” section, and ensure you include email for BOTH (all) parties after reading the information below.
You will receive an email with a scheduling function, questionnaire and payment link. You may go ahead and schedule your mediation but you MUST BOTH (all) return the completed questionnaire at least 3 days prior to your mediation. The questionnaire allows the mediator to understand all issues and assets that need to be addressed in a final agreement. Further, by signing it, you both agree to adopt NC Rule of Evidence 408 which makes settlement negotiations inadmissible at any future trial. This means that if you don’t reach agreement and end up in court, offers you make in mediation can’t be used against you in court. Payment in advance is required.
We will do your mediation session virtually. That allows you to be in the place of your choosing where you are most comfortable. We can do a joint session or you can be in individual “rooms” and I go back and forth. You do need a phone, computer or device with a video function so that I can see you during the negotiations.
If you reach agreement, you have two options. First, we can draft up a detailed summary of your agreement and it will be sent in soft (Word) copy to each of you. Even though Brooke is an experienced, licensed NC attorney, NC law prohibits mediators from practicing law with regard to the cases they mediate. So, she is not allowed to draw up the legally binding agreement. However, by sending the detailed agreement in soft copy, any lawyer you consult with can simply copy and paste the agreement into the desired binding form. This will save you both big bucks. We guarantee that the detailed summary we send will be clear and concise and will comprehensively address all assets disclosed to us in the questionnaire. So, even though you may need to hire an attorney to get legally binding documents, the cost of your divorce or family conflict will be pennies by comparison to the cost of a court battle.
Second, you can pay for a bundled service, where we have an independent NC licensed attorney available to join our session, obtain the information needed to draft the binding documents and draft them right then. Those documents can be immediately sent to you for signature with detailed instructions for signing and notarizing the agreement. This means you can have a legally binding agreement that day! If you pay for the bundled service and don’t reach agreement, the attorney portion will be refunded to you. You must select and pay for the bundle up front so that we may have the attorney available to join the session once we reach agreement.
If you do not reach agreement, your work on our questionnaire will have you well prepared to meet with an attorney and save you time and money. You can even print your responses and take them directly to the attorney you choose. You have little risk and great potential reward by trying mediation.
Can we hire you to go to court for our divorce?
No. Brooke does provide legal services for long time clients but she is not currently litigating divorce or child custody cases. She believes that children and families benefit when they can avoid court to resolve family conflict. She focuses her efforts and time on spreading the word about the benefits of mediation and on helping families resolve their conflicts.