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Why have a lawyer in child custody mediation?

Most North Carolinians have probably heard of mediation, if only in the news or on legal television shows. They might also understand that it is considered an 'alternative dispute resolution method.' This method, which provides an alternative to litigation, is often used in family law cases like divorce and child custody. There may be a few reasons why mediation might be a good option in certain cases, but one should always understand that using such an alternative process without legal advice might not be a great idea.

Mediation in family law seeks to get the parties to come to some kind of agreement on issues, like child custody and visitation, so that both parents can feel like part of the process and, hopefully, have a more congenial relationship going forward. With regard to child custody, having both parents on the same page is generally in the best interests of the child. When it comes to property division and other divorce issues, a mediation may allow the parties to reach an agreement that each feels is fair, rather than leaving the matter for a judge to decide.

North Carolina residents may think that having a lawyer wouldn't be necessary or helpful going into mediation. After all, the mediator, as a neutral party, will take care of everything, right? Well, a judge is also a neutral party, but most people wouldn't want to go before one without a lawyer. Further, a mediator's job is to get an agreement, not to protect any person's interests. Some mediators may not be lawyers, and they might not know what a party would be entitled to if he or she went to court. In such a case, by signing a mediation agreement, the party might be waiving certain rights that the party didn't know her or she had.

In brief, North Carolina residents dealing with child custody issues may wish to consider consulting an experienced family attorney prior to moving forward with mediation or other dispute resolution methods. Even when trying to get an amicable settlement, parents should try to make certain that their, and their children's legal rights are protected.

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