In the United States, our system of justice is based on the advocate system. That means there is usually going to be a winner and a loser when you go to court. Only rarely is there a situation when going to court that both sides win. The object of divorce is to end an irretrievably broken marriage, and it is the desire of most courts to end all marriages in as peaceful, amiable, and fair way as they can. They want to do what is best for all concerned, but in reality, because of our advocacy system, it does not always work our that way. That is why, if you live in an area like Raleigh, Durham, or Chapel Hill, there are state laws concerning the counseling and mediation in a North Carolina divorce. These laws are designed to temper the advocacy system in order to provide an amiable way of working through serious divorce issues like child custody.
In North Carolina, whenever it appears to the court, from the pleadings or otherwise, that an action involves a contested issue as to the custody or visitation of a minor child, the matter, where there is a program established, can be set for mediation of the unresolved issues as to custody and visitation before or concurrent with the setting of the matter for hearing unless the court waives mediation. Issues that arise in motions for contempt or for modifications as well as in other pleadings may be set for mediation unless mediation is waived by the court. Alimony, child support, and other economic issues can not be referred for mediation. According to North Carolina statute 50-13.1, the purposes of mediation include the pursuit of the following goals:
- To reduce any acrimony that exists between the parties to a dispute involving custody or visitation of a minor child.
- The development of custody and visitation agreements that are in the child’s best interest.
- To provide the parties with informed choices and, where possible, to give the parties the responsibility for making decisions about child custody and visitation.
- To provide a structured, confidential, non-adversarial setting that will facilitate the cooperative resolution of custody and visitation disputes and minimize the stress and anxiety to which the parties, and especially the child, are subjected.
- To reduce the re-litigation of custody and visitation disputes.
The counseling and meditation program, although it can be offered or mandated for anyone going through a divorce with children, may not work for everyone. If you believe there is more animosity between you and your spouse than you think the courts can alleviate, then, you may very well need an advocate, someone who is trained in the legalities of family law practices, someone who will be on your side when you have to go to court. Contact us right now at and we will help you find a divorce attorney in your area who can answer the legal questions about divorce and child custody you may have.
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