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. 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. For a full discussion of the advantages of mediation, click here.
Family Court Mediator in Charleston
Stephan Futeral has been certified as one of the family court mediators in Charleston SC for many years. As a certified South Carolina family court mediator, he 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.
The Mediation Process
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).