Mediation is the most common dispute resolution option; however, it is often misunderstood. Mediation allows you and your spouse to reach a fair settlement with the help of a third, neutral party called a mediator. Mediators, who can be lawyers, mental health professionals, clergy, or other professionals trained in alternative dispute resolution techniques, help you and your spouse identify and resolve issues. The most important thing to understand is that mediators cannot give either of you legal advice. They are not a substitute for having your own lawyer. The mediator’s role is to help you and your spouse communicate and reach agreement while your lawyer’s role is to make sure your legal rights are protected. Mediation is confidential, allows you and your spouse to make the decisions, and is less expensive than filing a lawsuit. You can reach a positive agreement that is more customized than the one you might receive from a judge. In mediation, you are responsible for your attorney’s fees, as well as half of the mediator’s fees. In certain states, mediation is required by the court after a lawsuit has been filed; for example, North Carolina requires couples to attend mediation before a child custody trial and equitable distribution trial.
If you still have questions or want to learn more, read these frequently asked questions/answers and myths about divorce mediation .