Alternative to Litigation with Family Law
Some people prefer to resolve family law matters using the mediation process or the collaborative family law model.
Working out the legal issues is usually less expensive and less stressful than fighting it out in court. It is the lawyer’s job to advise clients about the law, to counsel clients about the legal and practical options that may be available, to guide clients to make good choices, and to make the tactical decisions in each case. However, it is the client who must make the crucial decisions about the ultimate goals to be achieved in a family law case, and whether to try to cooperate to work out the issues or “go to the mat” in court.
In appropriate cases, we work with counselors, private investigators, custody evaluators, psychologists, accountants, real estate appraisers and business valuation experts to assist us in making appropriate recommendations to our clients. In such cases, we first confer with our clients and determine whether such an expert is needed, as hiring such experts can be quite expensive. Routine family law cases can take months or years to resolve; a “simple case” can become complex and expensive, especially if the opposing party is overly aggressive. We encourage you to consider engaging in the collaborative law process or in pre-litigation mediation to try to preserve your resources and family relationships.
Family financial mediation is required for equitable distribution actions before a case can be set for trial. Parties can voluntarily engage in the family financial mediation process even without a pending lawsuit. See The North Carolina Court System Family Financial Settlement Program and the Mediated Settlement Conferences in Equitable Distribution and other Family Financial Cases brochure. It may be better to resolve financial issues like support and property division by agreement, because the parties stay in control of the process and can be creative in crafting win-win resolutions. If parties won’t negotiate in good faith, then the only alternative may be to turn to the court system for help.