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Can you do away with child custody mediation in North Carolina?

On Behalf of | Mar 27, 2024 | Family Law |

People involved in child custody cases in North Carolina generally go through mediation. During this confidential meeting, mediators help custody seekers find common ground.

If the parties agree for the sake of their children, the mediator will draft a parenting agreement. After the custody seekers and a judge sign the agreement, there might be no need for a trial. Since mediation could hasten the process, why would custody seekers want to do away with it?

Reasons to waive mediation

A judge can waive the mediation requirement after custody seekers have filed a Motion and Order to Waive Custody Mediation. When the process skips mediation, it proceeds to a trial.

The usual reasons for requesting the waiver are:

  • Distance concerns: The residence of at least one of the parties is over 50 miles away from the court.
  • History of substance abuse: There are incidents of abuse involving alcohol or other substances.
  • Mental health problems: A party has severe psychological or psychiatric issues.
  • Domestic violence: There is a history of violence or abuse against the other party or their children.

Another valid reason is when the custody seekers decide to hold a private mediation. Although mediations are confidential, a mediator may inform the judge about urgent safety concerns. These include witnessing a crime, hearing harmful threats and discovering unreported abuse.

Limitations of mediation

Before the mediation, the parties must attend an orientation. Then, the mediation will take place under the guidance of a mediator. Unfortunately, the mediator cannot decide for the parties if they continue to disagree.

The mediation can last up to two hours, and the parties may ask for another session. During mediation, they cannot tackle child support because it should only revolve around custody and visitation.

Looking out for your child’s best interests

With or without mediation, the courts will ensure that they will decide based on your child’s best interests. As you go through the custody process, keep in mind that your actions and decisions should reflect the same.