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Court-Ordered Mediation in Child Custody Cases

In North Carolina, parents involved in a child custody dispute are required to participate in a mediation settlement conference before having their dispute heard and resolved by a judge. The idea is to encourage parents to reach a mutual agreement with the help of a trained mediator rather than fight it out in court.

When both parties participate in good faith, mediation can be very effective at resolving disputes and saving money on attorney fees. Additional benefits are as follows:

  1. Reduced acrimony between the parents.
  2. Custody and visitation agreements that are focused on the child’s best interest.
  3. Structured, confidential, and non-adversarial setting that can facilitate cooperation and reduce stress and anxiety.
  4. Reduced likelihood of either party returning to court later because of a dispute about custody or visitation.

Court-ordered mediation may be waived by the judge if any of the following facts exist:

  1. Allegations of domestic violence.
  2. Allegations of abuse or neglect of the child.
  3. Allegations of alcoholism or drug abuse.
  4. Allegations of severe psychological or emotional problems.
  5. Either parent lives more than 50 miles from the courthouse.

One of the most important aspects of court-ordered mediation is privacy. Anything said in mediation is protected under the laws of privilege, meaning that nothing said during the mediation conference can be used in court later if the mediation fails. This encourages and allows each parent to freely discuss the issues without fear of hurting their position at a later court hearing.

If an agreement is reached at mediation, the mediator will write it down and present the agreement to the judge in something called a Memorandum of Judgment. If the agreement is reasonable, the judge will sign it and file it as an official order of the court.

Call the Law Office of John P. Fernandez if you have questions or need legal representation in a family law matter. John Fernandez is licensed to practice law in North Carolina. The laws of North Carolina may differ from other states and no information contained herein should be considered legal advice.

About John Fernandez

John P. Fernandez | Child Custody and Divorce Lawyer | Raleigh, NCAttorney John Fernandez works with North Carolina individuals and families who need advice or representation in estate planning and administration matters. John provides an in-depth analysis of each client’s needs and works toward reducing estate taxes, avoiding probate and ensuring that health care decisions are handled appropriately. John helps individuals with modest and large estates achieve their goals.


John P. Fernandez
Attorney at Law
9555 US Highway 15-501 North
Chapel Hill, NC 27517
(919) 601-5028

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