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Top-Rated Family Court Mediator in Charleston

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843.284.5500

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Top-Rated Family Court Mediator in Charleston
Get a Consultation Today

Give Us Your Problems.
We’ll Give You Solutions.

Hire A Certified Family Court Mediator, for a Cheaper, Easier Divorce in Charleston

If you’re getting a divorce in Charleston, Dorchester, or Berkeley County, then you will be required to attempt to settle your case through mediation before your case is tried by a family court judge. Mediation is an alternative to litigation. Stephan Futeral has been a family court lawyer in Charleston for over 29 years and he knows contested divorces, even using a cheap attorney, can be expensive. Also, you’re putting your family’s fate in the hands of divorce lawyers and a family court judge. However, through family court mediation you can get divorced cheaper and without the risk of family court.

A mediator is not a judge. Instead, a mediator is a neutral person who is formally trained to identify and understand family court issues and to help divorcing couples reach an agreement without the expense and the heartache of battling with one another in family court. Most family court cases, even the tough ones, settle through mediation. So, instead of paying thousands of dollars to lawyers with no guarantees, you and your spouse can end your marriage cheaply and peacefully by mediating your divorce.

As a certified South Carolina family court mediator, Stephan has helped many divorcing couples navigate through the complex issues of a divorce to reach a formal agreement regarding such issues as child custody, parenting schedules, division of assets and debts, and other issues that are common in family court. Sometimes husbands and wives attend mediation with a lawyer at their side, but oftentimes he works with individuals who choose to avoid the expense of hiring lawyers.

How Are Mediators Chosen in Charleston County for Family Court?

In Charleston County, the parties can choose their mediator by agreeing to a certified family court mediator that they believe would the best person to help them settle their divorce or other family law matter such as child custody or child support. If the parties cannot agree, then a Charleston family court judge will appoint a mediator. Typically, the parties share the mediator’s cost equally. Stephan Futeral charges $250 per hour for his mediation services.

How Does Mediation Work in South Carolina?

The process of mediation is informal. Mr. Futeral meets with husbands and wives separately (or together if the parties prefer) to discuss their needs and their goals. As a mediator, whatever each party discusses with Mr. Futeral in private, he keeps this information confidential and does not share any of these discussions with the other party unless he is given permission by that party to do so (such as communicating settlement offers). Through these private discussions, Mr. Futeral is able to understand the parties’ concerns over finances, children, and other important issues. Also, these discussions help husbands and wives understand the other party’s concerns in a relaxed, non-threatening, and collaborative atmosphere. By speaking privately with the parties, Mr. Futeral is also able to determine where the parties may share common ground and help them to shape their own agreement.

The process may last a few hours or even a few days depending on the couple’s needs. When the parties are able to reach an agreement, Mr. Futeral prepares a formal written settlement agreement that the couple (or their lawyers) can present to the family court for its approval as a formal family court order. If the parties are unable to resolve their differences through mediation, then everything that was discussed during mediation remains completely confidential. In other words, under South Carolina’s mediation rules, Mr. Futeral cannot be compelled by either party to disclose to the court whatever was discussed during mediation (with a few exceptions such as threats of violence).

The Advantages of Mediation vs. Litigation in South Carolina?

Mediation offers many significant advantages over battling it out in court. The following are a few examples:

Mediation Litigation
You can focus on your true needs and interests. A judge decides what’s important.
You have control over the voluntary negotiation process. A judge controls your fate.
You can be very creative. A judge’s decision is rarely creative.
You can maintain privacy because the sessions are confidential. Court records may be open to public examination.
Through mediation and settlement, you can end your marriage peacefully. Court hearings and trials typically foster resentment and ongoing hostility.
You can save an enormous amount of time, energy, and expense. Around one year, and thousands of dollars, to go to trial.

Suggestions for Getting Your Spouse to Agree to Mediation

During a divorce, it is typical for one spouse to distrust everything the other spouse says and does. Oftentimes, spouses are bitter, angry, emotionally wounded, and blame the other spouse for the problems in the marriage. In many cases, one side doesn’t want the divorce at all. With all of these issues in mind, it can be very challenging to encourage divorcing couples to attend mediation to resolve their differences. So, how does one go about getting their husband or wife to agree to mediation without “lawyering up?” Here are some practical suggestions:

1) Provide information on mediation – The first place to start is by sharing information about the mediation process with the other party. For example, you can share with them articles on the internet about family court mediation.  

2) Don’t be a know-it-all – If you “preach” to your spouse about mediation, then your spouse may feel intimidated because you have all the knowledge and the “upper hand” in the process.  If you feel that your spouse is likely to ignore your attempt to share information about mediation, then call upon a third person such as a close family friend or pastor to see if they are willing to encourage your spouse to consider family court mediation.

3) Let your spouse research – If your spouse believes mediation is a good option, then they will do their own research on the subject. Be patient and give them time to explore and understand their options.

4) Don’t force mediation – Mediation doesn’t work unless both spouses are invested in the process. You can’t control your spouse in the divorce any more so than you could when the two of you were together. If you ram-rod the idea of mediation down your spouse’s throat, then don’t be surprised when they refuse to mediate.

5) Be flexible –  Choosing the right family court mediator isn’t a one-sided process. Acknowledge that he or she also has a right to choose. Ask your spouse for his or her opinion, and then patiently wait for their answer. Don’t push it. If your spouse is unsure, then suggest that each of you write down the names of one or two mediators and compare your choices. If you both have the same name on each list, then you have your mediator. If not, then suggest that each of you meet, separately, with the other’s choice of mediators, and then try to decide which one to choose. Remember, mediators are NEUTRAL, so trying to decide which mediator might give you an “edge” is pointless. In other words, be flexible about your choice of mediators. At the end of the day, it is better to mediate than to argue over who to mediate with!

6) Be patient – Even if your spouse ignores your suggestion to mediate or wrangles over who to use as a mediator, have patience. Although it would be best to mediate earlier to save time, money, and aggravation, mediation is better late than never. So, if your spouse doesn’t engage in mediation early on in your divorce, keep at them, but be polite and non-threatening about your suggestion to mediate.

7) Be transparent – If your spouse indicates that he or she is willing to mediate, then share ALL of your family’s financial information with them including income, assets, debts, retirement accounts, etc. You can’t expect your spouse to mediate “in-the-blind” or to agree to terms and figures when they have no knowledge of your family’s financial affairs. If you don’t share this information, then you won’t get far in mediation. Besides, sooner or later, the family court will order you to hand it over anyway.

How to Get Started with a Cheaper, Easier Divorce in Charleston & Mount Pleasant

Stephan Futeral strives to be the best at what he does. That’s why he’s top-rated (AV) by Martindale-Hubbell, rated 10 (Superb) by AVVO, and clients endorse him with 5 stars ★★★★★ on Google Reviews. The National Academy of Family Law Attorneys (NAFLA) recognizes Stephan as one of the Top 10 Family Law Attorneys in South Carolina. NAFLA uses a thorough selection process to determine the top family law attorneys in each state.

In South Carolina, the court requires every divorcing couple to mediate, so why not mediate BEFORE you and your spouse pay expensive legal fees?! Here’s how in three straightforward steps:

  1. Download Our Free Book on Divorce in South Carolina
    • Before your mediation, download and read our free book on divorce in South Carolina. The book covers nearly everything you need to know before you mediate. Best of all, it’s FREE! No sign-up; no catch. Stephan Futeral wrote the book for divorcing couples in easy-to-understand explanations covering everything from custody, visitation, child support, alimony, and much more.Scroll down this page to get the eBook.
  2. Schedule Mediation
    • Stephan Futeral can help you and your spouse come to terms with your divorce. Stephan does not choose sides, he doesn’t judge anyone or anything, and everything you discuss is 100% confidential. You and your spouse can meet with him either together or separately in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. Most mediations only take one day. During mediation, we’ll cover everything problem both you and your spouse need to solve in your divorce. With Stephan’s help, you’ll work to come up with an agreement that both you and your spouse can live by. If you and your spouse reach an agreement, then you’ve saved the cost of two divorce lawyers and you’re on to Step 3!
  3. Get your agreement approved by the family court
    • If you and your spouse reach an agreement, Stephan will prepare a formal document that you can use in family court. Stephan will also give you and your spouse all of the forms and step-by-step instructions on how to finalize your divorce.

Get Our Free Book on Divorce in South Carolina

Divorce in South Carolina – Piecing It All Together, is free on the iTunes® Bookstore or as a PDF! We wrote this book especially for divorcing couples in South Carolina.

With over 100 pages of information covering South Carolina’s family laws, you’ll get straightforward answers to just about any questions you might have about how the family court calculates alimony and child support, division of marital property including pensions and IRA’s, the role of a guardian ad litem in custody cases, temporary hearings and orders, and the legal procedures in South Carolina’s family courts.

The book is also a practical guide on how to deal with your spouse and your children during your divorce, what to do if your spouse is hiding income or assets, ways to reduce your legal fees, and much more.

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