Child Custody Mediation and Parenting Education
When dealing with the issues that divorce and separation present, it is not uncommon to come across a scenario where the parties involved are unable to agree on certain items, like child custody and visitation. Instead of allowing the parties to proceed to trial on these matters, North Carolina mandates that the parties attend a Parenting Education class and Child Custody Mediation. This requirement was established in 1989 under N.C.G.S. § 7A-494.
Why is Child Custody Mediation Required?
North Carolina General Statute § 50-13.1 requires that any action which involves a contested issue as to the custody or visitation of a minor child be set for mediation as to those unresolved issues. Mediation takes place before the hearing and its goals are to:
- To reduce any bitterness that exists between the parties to a dispute involving custody or visitation of a minor child;
- The development of custody and visitation agreements that are in the child’s best interest;
- To provide the parties with informed choices and, where possible, to give the parties the responsibility for making decisions about child custody and visitation;
- To provide a structured, confidential, non-adversarial setting that will facilitate the cooperative resolution of custody and visitation disputes and minimize the stress and anxiety to which the parties, and especially the child, are subjected; and
- To reduce the re-litigation of custody and visitation disputes.
How Does Child Custody Mediation Work?
Child custody mediation is a free service that is provided to all parents before a custody trial. Attorneys are not present during this phase. A court appointed mediator is assigned to the parties and will try to assist the parties in reaching an amicable child custody arrangement. If the parties are able to agree on the child custody arrangement, the mediator will draft a document called a parenting agreement, which will outline the terms of child custody and visitation terms. If no agreement can be reached between the parties, the unresolved matter will be scheduled for a hearing.
What is the Parenting Education Class?
North Carolina requires that the parties attend a parenting education class. The class is generally four hours in length. Parents who are required to attend the class will receive advice and pointers on how to raise their child while there is a custody arrangement in place. There is a small fee for this class and if a party fails to take this class and provide a certificate of completion to the court, there may be financial penalties from the court.
At Gilles Law, we handle North Carolina family law issues including divorce, child custody, child support, and alimony. If you need a family law attorney in Charlotte or the surround areas, Contact us.
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