The process that deals with dividing up marital assets and debts after two parties have separated is called equitable distribution. The North Carolina General Assembly passed a statute to establish a program that requires equitable distribution disputes to go to mediation before they are heard in the court room in an effort to save time and money, as well as to facilitate judicial economy.
In North Carolina mediation is now required before equitable distribution disputes reach the court. If the parties can agree, they can choose their own neutral mediator. If they cannot agree as to who the mediator should be, then a judge will select one for them. The parties are also responsible for paying the costs of mediation. However, if the court determines that someone is indigent, which means they are unable to pay the costs of mediation, then the mediator will provide their services at no charge.
The mediator responsible for scheduling the mediation conference and finding a neutral, agreed upon location where the mediation can take place. During mediation, the mediator serves as a neutral person who focuses on the parties’ issues and helps them to try and come to a settlement agreement. A mediator should never impose their own judgment on the parties at mediation, even though a mediator may offer his or her thoughts, with counsel for the party in the room.
If the mediation serves its purpose and is successful, the parties will come to an agreement as to the division of their marital assets and debts. The agreement will be put in writing and signed by both parties and the mediator. Once the agreement is complete, the mediator will notify the court that the case has settled and there will be no need to go to court for issues related to equitable distribution. If the mediation is unsuccessful and an agreement cannot be reached, the mediator will report to the court and the case will proceed to trial thereafter.
If you are in a situation where you need access to property, whether it is land, money, or otherwise; or, if you need documentation for title, deed, or a division of debts incurred during the marriage, contact King Law Offices to speak with one of our experienced attorneys today.