The North Carolina Rules of Court require that every case filed in Superior Court be mediated. Mediation is an informal gathering where all parties and their attorneys, if the parties are represented, meet with a neutral party — the mediator — to find out if a settlement can be reached. This not optional. In addition, there is a cost associated with mediation because the mediator is paid by the parties. The good news is that for parties who are motivated to resolve their differences, mediation provides a great opportunity to do so because everyone is present and not distracted by other matters while the mediation takes place. During mediation, each side can state its case and air concerns in a confidential manner. This can take a few hours or all day depending on the complexity of the case or the differing opinions. Typically, part of the mediation is spent with all parties in the same room and part of the time is spent with the parties divided into different rooms. The mediator assists in developing the discussion either way. Mediation more often than not settles cases, and good mediators can be very creative in developing settlements with the parties. The key to success in mediation is preparation. Every case that settles in mediation has a common characteristic: that neither side got what they wanted. It is important to understand that going in to mediation because the name of the game is compromise. Of course, sometimes parties come to mediation with unwavering positions and that makes it harder to reach an agreement. And in those instances, that party is saying we’d rather go to court than compromise. Regardless, it’s in your best interest to come ready to make a deal, and your attorney will help you develop a mediation plan.