Referral to mediation is mandatory for all equitable distribution actions filed in district court (disputes over the division of a divorcing couples' assets and debts) unless the parties' demonstrate to the court that there is a good reason to dispense with mediation. A district court judge will enter the order referring the action to mediated settlement. Mediators serve as case managers for purposes of Family Financial Settlement (FFS) Program It is their responsibility to schedule the mediation conference with the parties and their attorneys; to confirm the date, time and location of the conference; to conduct the conference; and to report the outcome to the courts, i.e., whether or not the case settled.
The Dispute Resolution Commission certifies the mediators who conduct mediated settlement conferences in North Carolina's superior courts and regulates their conduct. The North Carolina Supreme Court has adopted Standards of Professional Conduct for Mediators and mediators are obliged to conform their conduct to those Standards. To view the Standards, click here. The Commission enforces the Standards. In addition to the Standards, mediators are expected to follow MSC program rules relative to scheduling, conducting and reporting on their mediations. Lastly, Rule VII of the Supreme Court's Rules for the Dispute Resolution Commission provides that mediators are not to engage in conduct that reflects a lack of moral character or fitness to practice as a mediator or that brings discredit on the Commission, the courts or the mediation process. Additional information about mediator conduct and ethics can be found by returning to www.ncdrc.org and clicking on the "Mediator Ethics" option from the left-hand menu.
Anyone with a complaint about a mediator's conduct, may contact the Commission at (919) 890-1415 or may send a letter to the Dispute Resolution Commission at P.O. Box 2448, Raleigh, NC 27602. The Commission has adopted a complaint form that the public may also use to register complaints about mediator conduct with the Commission. To view the complaint form, click here.