It is mandatory in all counties before you can have a hearing on temporary custody or modification of custody. While, it is not mandatory that you reach an agreement in mediation, it is mandatory that you attend custody mediation.
Most counties will schedule custody mediation orientation before your mediation date is scheduled. At orientation you will generally watch a video on the effects of divorce on children and why mediation is an important first step. You will also be assigned a mediator and a mediation date.
Currently, orientation is on Wednesdays, at 10am in Room 1113 on the 11th floor of the Wake County Courthouse, 316 Fayetteville Street, Raleigh, NC, if you reside in Wake County.
What happens if I can’t make orientation? The mediation office will automatically reschedule your orientation to a new date and send that information to you in the mail. If you cannot attend the second orientation session, please contact us. You can be sanctioned by the court for your failure to attend.
Custody mediation is a free service provided by the court. However, your attorney may not participate and you cannot bring any third parties with you.
At your mediation date, your mediator will work with both you and your ex (in the same room) to try to help you both come to an agreement on physical and legal custody. The mediator is a trained neutral third party who is not on either side but is there is facilitate discussions, negotiations and give ideas.
The first mediation session generally lasts about two (2) hours unless there is a complete break-down in communication or there is no chance of settlement. The mediator will likely end the session early.
If you and your ex are able to make progress, the mediator will draft an agreement and give a copy to you both to take home with you to review, present to your attorney, and to think about. You will NOT be required to sign anything at the first meeting.
If you and your ex still desire to sign the agreement, a second appointment will be made with the mediator in order to sign the agreement. So, you will have time to review the custody schedule and other terms with our office before signing.
Once signed, the agreement will be submitted to the judge for his or her signature. Once signed by the judge the agreement is converted to a court order with the powers of contempt. Be sure to follow the agreement/court order! You can go to jail if found in contempt.
You will no longer need to have a hearing on custody (in most cases) once the judge signs your agreement and your case will be concluded.
There are reasons why mediation can be waived including: severe mental health or substance abuse issues, DVPO, imprisonment, or one of the parties lives more than 50 miles from Wake County. However, if one party lives far away they may have the option to call in by telephone if that is preferred. If you desire to have mediation waived, please contact our office.
The mediator CANNOT discuss child support or other support issues.
If you would like to set up a telephone conference or in office appt. to discuss mediation before it occurs, please feel free to contact us. We are happy to meet with you to go over tips and procedures to make mediation more successful!