How Does Divorce Mediation Work in North Carolina?

Divorce mediation in North Carolina generally works in two phases. The first phase is for child custody and visitation. A trained mediator provided by the state conducts the session. The second phase is for property division. The parties hire a private mediator for property division issues.

Family law attorney Jennifer K. Dixon of Remington & Dixon, PLLC discusses how mediation works in North Carolina.

Divorce Mediation in North Carolina

Divorce mediation in NC occurs if child custody or property division is in dispute. With the help of a trained mediator, the parties discuss the potential resolution of the issues. Mediation takes place outside of the presence of the court.

  • In NC, there is child custody mediation and property distribution mediation.
  • The court provides the mediator for child custody. It is free of charge.
  • For property issues, the parties choose a private mediator or request a court-appointed mediator.
  • The parties equally share the cost of a private or court-appointed mediator, unless they agree otherwise.
  • Sometimes, mediation can be waived if there is a history of domestic violence or other compelling reason.
  • You don’t have to reach a mediation agreement.
  • If you sign an agreement, it is binding.

Mediation can resolve issues in your favor. It allows you to create a more detailed order than a court might create following a hearing. It removes the uncertainty of what may happen at a hearing. However, to use mediation effectively, it’s important to understand how mediation works in North Carolina.

What is the law for divorce mediation in North Carolina?

N.C.G.S. § 7A-38.1 authorizes the court to order mediation conferences in civil cases, including in divorce matters. In addition, N.C.G.S. § 50-13.1(b) requires the court to refer disputed child custody and visitation issues to mediation.

N.C.G.S. § 7A-494 creates detailed requirements for the court Custody and Visitation Mediation Program.

When can child custody mediation be waived in NC?

Mediation may be waived when there are allegations of:

  • Abuse or neglect of the minor child
  • Alcoholism
  • Drug abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • Severe psychological, psychiatric, or emotional problems
  • A party living +50 miles from the court and video conference options are not available
  • Undue hardship
  • Agreement for voluntary mediation, with court approval

A party may move to dismiss mediation proceedings because the mediator is biased, unduly familiar with a party, or for other prejudice.

What Does a Mediator Do?

A mediator is a neutral facilitator of settlement discussions between parties in dispute. They help the parties negotiate constructively, working for a resolution by agreement.

How does mediation work?

Mediation works by allowing both parties to raise and discuss issues. The mediator looks for areas of agreement and facilitates discussions. If the parties can resolve some or all the issues, they put the agreement in writing and sign it. The court issues a final, binding order.

Are the things discussed in divorce mediation confidential?

Under N.C.G.S. § 50-13.1(e), things said in mediation are confidential. Statements can’t be admitted in court. However, this doesn’t provide criminal immunity or exempt anyone from mandatory reporting requirements for suspected abuse or neglect.

If we reach an agreement in divorce mediation, is it legally binding?

If you reach a mediation agreement, it is legally binding. The judge enters it as a court order. It’s important to understand what you agree to when you sign the order.

What happens if divorce mediation is not successful?

If you fail to reach an agreement in divorce mediation, the matter will be set for a hearing. You may continue to negotiate.

It’s important to understand the likely outcome at trial and the pros and cons of any potential agreement. When you have legal counsel, they advise you regarding potential settlement offers.

What to Know About Mediation in North Carolina

Divorce mediation in North Carolina can be a beneficial and expedient way to resolve issues in divorce. Your attorney is present with you in mediation for economic issues, including the division of property. However, they aren’t present for mediation of child custody issues through the court.

You can agree with the other party to conduct private mediation instead of the court-ordered program. That way, your attorney can guide you and explain the ramifications of any potential settlement agreement.

If you attend state-facilitated mediation, be sure that you clearly understand any agreement you are considering. You don’t have to sign it at mediation – you can have your attorney review it first. Know that if you sign an agreement, it’s binding, and it can be hard to change later. Always thoroughly prepare with your attorney in advance of your mediation date.

Is divorce mediation good?

Mediation can be helpful. You may:

  • Save the time and expense of a hearing
  • Create a more detailed agreement that you would likely receive through the court
  • Remove the uncertainty of what the court might do
  • Get the things that are the most important to you

If mediation accomplishes these objectives, it is a useful tool. There are times when you should sign a mediation agreement — and there are times when you need a hearing.

As your lawyer, family law attorney Jennifer K. Dixon of Remington & Dixon prepares to make your mediation session productive. She represents your interests and advises you throughout your case.

Talk to a Family Lawyer

To discuss your case and get legal help today, contact us online at Remington & Dixon or call 704-247-7110 to schedule a consultation.


Are consultations free?

While we offer a free consultation on traffic matters, criminal matters, and most professional license defense cases, we charge a fee for family law consultations to personalize our consultations to your specific needs. To learn about our fee structure, please get in touch.

Where can I get legal advice?

We recommend meeting with an attorney. While there is free legal help available for North Carolina residents from pro bono resources for civil matters, and public defenders for criminal cases, the best way to access tailored advice is to hire a lawyer.

Can I hire you if I’m in another state?

This is done on a case by case basis if you are involved in a family law, criminal, or professional disciplinary matter that involves another jurisdiction.



"*" indicates required fields

With a Consultation

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.