“One of the best ways to persuade others is with your ears – by listening to them.” – Dean Rusk
North Carolina Certified Family Financial Mediator
With his trial background, Joe knows the pitfalls of litigation and the stress, inconvenience, frustration, and financial burdens it generates. Frankly, litigation should often be a means of last resort.
As a North Carolina certified family financial mediator, Joseph Schmitz regularly serves to mediate disputes involving one or more of the following issues:
Equitable Distribution (marital property distribution)
Spousal support (post separation support and alimony)
What is “Mediation”?
Mediation is simply the process where an impartial third person assists two people in conflict discuss their dispute in an effort to reach a settlement. It does not require the parties be represented by attorneys, and thus it can save both parties from having to pay for attorneys while still being able to settle their differences. Often, both parties are represented by the attorneys, which can often be beneficial to the parties, but it’s not absolutely necessary.
Bottom line – mediation is a time-tested and proven process that has helped thousands of people amicably resolve their differences without facing the uncertainty of the courtroom.
If you and your spouse prefer to avoid the expense associated with having your own lawyers and you prefer to resolve your differences with the aid of a mediator, then the process will look like this:
Call and Schedule Initial Consultation
Mediator speaks with both spouses and explains the mediation process, the benefits of the process, and answers any questions the spouses might have about the process. This meeting will last approximately 20 minutes.
Mediator meets with both spouses and assigns homework in preparation for the mediated settlement conference.
Mediated Settlement Conference
The mediated settlement conference takes place. Each conference is limited to three hours.
Once a resolution has been reached by the spouses, one or both spouses will need to hire an attorney who will then prepare the final settlement document(s) based on the outlined agreement prepared by the mediator. North Carolina does not permit the mediator to prepare the formal settlement document.
The Process, In More Detail
The parties are generally never in the same room together, helping to ensure a safe environment, particularly when there has been a history of an abusive relationship or acts of domestic violence.
The mediator will meet with both parties and briefly introduce himself and establish the ground rules for the mediation process. From there, the mediator begins to collect information from each party and outline the issues that need to be resolved, and then the mediator will begin to assist the parties in identifying common goals and outlining potential areas of compromise.
Depending on the number of issues that need to be resolved, whether the parties are represented, and the starting positions of the parties, mediation can take as little time as a couple of hours to a full day or two to reach a full and final resolution. If the parties take a break to obtain additional information that will be useful to resolving their issues, then a recess can be taken, and the mediation will be rescheduled for the earliest date possible. As a mediator, Joe works diligently to cut quickly through the tangential issues and get to the root of the problem.
By settling their dispute in mediation, the parties maintain control over the results and have the invaluable opportunity to customize a creative solution to the problem – judges do not always have the same abilities.
Conversely, when attempting to “resolve” the problem in court, the parties face long, enduring days in the courtroom, unavoidable delays (sometimes many months), thousands of dollars in attorneys’ fees, and a stranger in a black robe will render an uncertain result.
Furthermore, mediation is a confidential process, whereby the parties’ private matters are kept out of the public record, which is quite often of high value to both parties. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, their settlement offers cannot be presented to a judge, which encourages the parties to make offers without any threat that an offer will be used against him or her at trial.
Unless the parties agree otherwise, they are each responsible for paying one-half of the fees charged by the mediator. At Schmitz Law, PC, to be as budget friendly as possible, we charge an administrative fee of $175 and $275 per hour, and the parties each pay half of the total. If you have already received an estimate of what an attorney will charge you to represent you, then you can recognize even just the financial benefits of mediation.
Let us help you resolve your family law dispute. To discuss your mediation, call us at 336-714-2380 or click below to schedule a consultation. Joe will travel to Guilford, Stokes, Surry, Davidson, Davie, and Yadkin counties to mediate your dispute, or Schmitz Law can host the mediation in our comfortable Winston-Salem office. Contact us for more information.