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Child Custody Mediation in the NC Courts

With rare exceptions, if you file a child custody case, you are required to attend mandatory child custody mediation. There is no charge to participate in mediation. Parents begin the process by attending an orientation program, a video of the rules and goals of the process. The parents will schedule and attend the actual mediation. When parents live out of town, the program is facilitated by video.  

How Does It Work?

A neutral mediator who is trained to help parents work towards reaching a visitation schedule will try to help you and the other parent find common ground. But the ultimate job of putting together a schedule that works for the family is that of the parties. The mediator does not make any decisions. Only the mediator and the parents attend the mediation. No third parties, including lawyers or judges, are allowed to be present.

The Goal of the Mediation Process

Mediation is your opportunity to jointly make parenting decisions on your own because if you cannot resolve these issues, a judge will decide them for you. A judge usually creates a specific visitation schedule, which may or not reflect what you like or want, or even what the other parent likes or wants. Therefore, it is best to attempt in good faith to resolve custody cases at mediation. Courts warmly welcome custodial agreements made by the parents.

What Happens After Mediation?

If the case is settled in mediation, the parties will sign the agreement once their attorneys have the opportunity to review the proposed agreement before it is signed by a judge. Once it is signed, the agreement becomes an official court order, without having to go to court. If no agreement is reached, the case may proceed to trial, or the parents may decide to attend another mediation session if both agree.

Read more:

Things to Consider About Your Parenting Agreement

Putting Children First: A Booklet for Families in Transition from the NC Administrative Office of the Courts.

How Judges Decide Custody Schedules?

Another type of mediation: Family Financial Mediation

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