ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION

SETTLEMENT Chris Eatmon is a proponent of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods that allow clients to resolve disputes outside the courtroom in an attempt to avoid the emotional and financial expense of litigation. In addition to resolving issues through negotiations between lawyers, parties also have the option for resolution by mediation, collaboration, arbitration, and parent coordination or any combination thereof. Sometimes a client’s participation in ADR is mandatory, for example, child custody mediation and family financial mediation during litigation. Other times a party may choose a form of ADR voluntarily. Eatmon Law Firm can help you determine whether ADR is appropriate for your case and which form of ADR is most appropriate after analyzing your particular situation.

MEDIATION Mediation is a very common and cost-effective way to resolve disputed issues arising out of a failed marriage. As an experienced certified Family Financial Mediator, Chris is well aware of the benefits of settling a family law case privately, without the stress, expense, and unpredictability of litigation. Chris regularly guides her own clients through the mediation process and is often asked by other family lawyers to serve as the mediator in their cases.

Mediation is a settlement option in which the parties to a dispute hire a neutral mediator to assist them in voluntarily resolving their dispute. Any disputed issue can be submitted to mediation. It is not necessary for a lawsuit to be filed in order to participate in the mediation process. Typically, the parties to this process are in separate rooms and are accompanied by their lawyers, who can provide advice and guidance through the settlement process, and draft and review settlement documents. The mediator is not permitted to provide legal advice to the participants, but does convey relevant information between the two rooms and helps craft options for settlement. The mediation session is confidential and inadmissible as evidence in court. An attorney cannot represent you and also act as a mediator. For this reason, it is important that you advise our office that you would like Ms. Eatmon to act as a neutral family law mediator, rather than as your lawyer, before you set a consultation to discuss your case.

COLLABORATION Collaborative Law is a process in which the parties, their counsel and other professionals (such as therapists, cpas and valuation experts) cooperate in trying to resolve a case and remove the threat of going to court as a means of resolution. The lawyer counsels and supports the client through the process, which involves voluntary and full disclosure. The parties must enter into a collaborative law agreement that governs the process. The parties and attorneys participate in meetings to work toward resolution, and experts are jointly retained by the parties. If the parties are unable to resolve all disputes, some contracts provide for arbitration. If no resolution or arbitration occurs, then in traditional collaborative law, each party must retain new counsel and new experts to proceed to trial.

ARBITRATION Arbitration involves the selection of an experienced family lawyer to serve as a private judge to hear evidence and make binding decisions about issues in a particular case. This offers a structured process and results in a binding decision that is possible to challenge only in limited circumstances. Agreements to arbitrate can be made prior to, during, or after the marriage and are binding and enforceable. Arbitration offers the parties privacy, flexibility and speed in scheduling hearings and having matters resolved and is often more economical than proceeding to trial.

CUSTODY MEDIATION If a lawsuit for custody has been filed, it is required by statute that parties attend custody mediation before they may schedule a permanent custody trial. Parties may be excused from mediation only for good cause shown by a party or if the parties have entered into a mediation agreement approved by the court. Court ordered custody mediation involves the parties and a neutral mediator. Attorneys are not present. The parties work with the mediator towards reaching a Parenting Agreement. The parties may develop a complete parenting arrangement, or they may agree on a partial parenting agreement that requires a future return to mediation, or the session may conclude without any agreement. If an agreement is reached, the mediator drafts a Parenting Agreement and mails it to the parties or their attorneys for review before signing. If the mediation is unsuccessful, the parties may proceed to trial. The mediation session is confidential and inadmissible as evidence in court, and a mediator may not be called to testify in court.

PARENT COORDINATION A Parenting Coordinator is a trained individual vested with the authority to confer with the parties, together or separately, to aid the parties in reducing conflict, compromising, complying with orders and developing methods for co-parenting. Parent coordinators may also be granted the authority to make decisions about the implementation of a parenting plan. Parties can consent to use a parenting coordinator. In addition, a court can appoint a parenting coordinator without the consent of the parties if the court has made a specific finding that it is a high conflict custody case and the parties have the ability to pay a parenting coordinator. Communications with the parenting coordinator are not privileged and the parent coordinator is not a counselor for the parties or the children. Parties need to be aware of the ongoing expense if a parenting coordinator is put in place. Chris Eatmon is a certified parenting coordinator and has been appointed as a parenting coordinator by the court in a number of high conflict custody cases. Back to Practice Areas

Contact a Wake Forest Child Custody and Visitation Lawyer at Eatmon Law Firm today.  To arrange an initial consultation with a Wake County Divorce Attorney, contact legaladmin@eatmonlawfirm.com.