The Goal: Fair and Wise Agreement
The goal of family mediation is to produce a wise agreement, to be efficient, and to improve or at least not further damage family relationships. Whether it is divorce or other family conflict, I use principled negotiation. As a former judge and longtime divorce and family attorney, I pay attention to NC law as we review the issues and negotiate agreement. While I can’t give you legal advice, I watch to see if the agreement that we are negotiating is generally consistent with NC law. If it is radically different from NC law, you can still agree to it… that is your choice! But, I may discuss with you that the agreement seems radically different so that you know that and can decide if you want to go ahead, make changes, or perhaps speak with an attorney of your own before making a final decision.
For property distribution, I know all classes of assets and issues that need to be addressed in the agreement, and I can draft the detailed summary of your agreement clearly and concisely. If you are struggling to agree about a parenting plan for your child, I can help you reach agreements regarding living arrangements, communication, decision-making, and exchanges to help you shelter your child from the pain of your divorce.
In order to mediate divorce or other family conflict, both (or all, if applicable) parties have to agree. If both (all) of you agree, input the requested information in the “contact us” section, and ensure you include email for BOTH 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.
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 will have a few options. First, I can draft up a detailed summary of your agreement and it will be sent in soft (Word) copy to each of you. Even though I am an experienced, licensed NC attorney, NC law prohibits mediators from practicing law with regard to the cases they mediate. So, I am not allowed to draw up the legally binding agreement. However, by sending the detailed agreement in soft copy, each of you can consult your own attorney if you wish. Then, one of those attorneys could draft the legally binding document and he/she would be able to cut and paste from the detailed summary we send. 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 and issues 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 (owner of her own law firm separate from Fairway Family Mediation) 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. If you pay for the bundled service and don’t reach agreement, the attorney portion will be refunded to you. The attorney will explain to you the limits of her representation as one attorney is limited when simultaneously representing two people. She would not be telling you individually whether you should sign the agreement. If you want that type of independent legal advice before signing the agreement, option 1 is for you. Her role would be simply to draft the agreement you reached in your mediation into legally binding form.
After You Reach Agreement
If you do not reach agreement, your work on our questionnaire will have you well prepared to meet with an attorney and will 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.
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