mandatory Custody MediationAs a Raleigh Divorce Lawyer, I get a lot of questions from clients regarding Mandatory Custody Mediation. The following is some basic overall information about Mandatory Custody Mediation and the process involved.

Exemption From Mandatory Custody Mediation

Under the Wake County Family Court Rules, parties involved in any child custody and/or visitation case must attend Mandatory Custody Mediation unless exempted from doing so. Parties may potentially be exempted from Mandatory Custody Mediation for the following reasons:

  • There is a Domestic Violence Protective Order in place;
  • One of the parties lives more than 50 miles from the Court;
  • One of the parties has abused or neglected the child/children;
  • One of the parties suffers from alcoholism, abuses drugs, or abuses the other party;
  • One of the parties has severe psychological, psychiatric, or emotional problems;
  • Custody Mediation would be an undue hardship; or
  • The parties have opted to participate in private, voluntary mediation instead.

A hearing may be necessary to determine whether Mandatory Custody Mediation will be waived based on one of these exemptions, but typically when a Domestic Violence Protective Order is in place or one of the parties lives too far away, a hearing is not necessary. You should speak to your Family Law Attorney for more information about your specific situation and whether or not seeking a waiver of Custody Mediation would be in your best interest.

Custody Mediation Process

Absent an exemption and a waiver, after a child custody/visitation claim is filed (including initial child custody/visitation claims AND motions to modify an existing child custody/visitation), the parties are required by the Court to attend Custody Mediation.

In this type of mediation, the parties’ lawyers do not attend. The only people involved are the parties and the mediator. Everything that is said during mediation is confidential, and is not inadmissible in court if the parties do not reach a resolution during mediation and end up having to go before a Wake County Judge.

The Goal Of Mandatory Custody Mediation

The goal of mandatory custody mediation is for the parties to try and work their issues out between themselves without having to go to court. If the parties are able to resolve their issues during mediation, the mediator will prepare a Parenting Agreement for the parties and their attorneys. After the parties have had a chance to review the Parenting Agreement and discuss any concerns with their attorneys, the parties can return to the Mediation Office and sign the final draft (which usually happens within 10 days of mediation). The Agreement is then given to the assigned Wake County Judge for review, and if he or she approves, the Judge can sign an Order Approving Parenting Agreement thus making the parties’ Agreement an order of the court. This means that if either party violates the terms of the Agreement, he or she can potentially be held in contempt of court.

Child custody/visitation, as well as divorce mediation issues can be very difficult to deal with, and Mandatory Custody Mediation is one step in a long process. Our Raleigh Family Law Attorneys and staff are here to help guide you through this journey and help you make the best decisions when it comes to you and your child/children. Please contact our office to schedule an initial consultation with one of our talented Divorce Law Attorneys should you need assistance with these issues.

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