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December 13, 2017 Podcast

Season 1 Episode 2: Mediation

Gailor Hunt
Gailor Hunt
Season 1 Episode 2: Mediation

In Episode 2, host Jaime Davis discusses the topic of mediation with fellow family law attorney and mediator Lynn McNally.  This episode addresses questions such as: How does mediation work?  How much does it cost?  Why is mediation beneficial?  Are there any downsides to mediation?

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Note: Our Podcast, “A Year and a Day: Divorce Without Destruction”, was created to be heard, but we provide text transcripts to make this information accessible to everyone. All transcripts on our website are created using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers and could contain errors.

Jaime Davis: Welcome to Episode 2 of A Year and a Day. I’m your host, Jaime Davis. In the last episode, I discussed issues related to coparenting with Dr. Lori Thomas. In this episode, we will be discussing mediation, which is one of my personal favorite topics. In North Carolina, you have to be separated a year and a day before you are eligible to file for a divorce, hence the name of this podcast. During that year, you will need to consider how you will resolve the issues arising from your separation, such as how much time the children will spend with each parent, who is going to get what property, and whether one party is going to pay support to the other party. One way you can resolve these issues with your spouse is through mediation. With me today to discuss the pros and cons of mediation, is my fellow mediator and family law attorney, Lynn McNally. Lynn is a board-certified family law specialist and partner with the Smith Debnam law firm in Raleigh. Both Lynn and I have been certified by the North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission as family financial mediators. Welcome, Lynn.

Lynn McNally: Thank you for having me, Jaime.

Jaime Davis: I am really excited about this discussion we’re gonna have today about mediation. So, at a very basic level, what is mediation?

Lynn McNally: Mediation is a process by which folks resolve their disputes, their legal disputes, without having to go to court. It includes a mediator, who is a neutral person, and that mediator’s role is to help facilitate settlement discussions between the two parties. That mediator doesn’t get to make any decisions; the mediator doesn’t act like a judge, but their goal is to help the parties reach some settlement of their matter.

Jaime Davis: So, logistically, how does mediation work?

Lynn McNally: Well, I practice family law and as you mentioned, we’re both certified family financial mediators, and so my experience with mediation is largely in the realm of family law. In a typical family law case, the process of mediation is that the two different parties are typically in separate rooms and the mediator travels back and forth between those rooms carrying offers and counteroffers and helping to resolve, hopefully resolve the case.

Jaime Davis: Does the mediator ever get to make a decision?

Lynn McNally: No. The mediator is not the decision maker. The parties that are involved in the mediation are the decision makers. Mediation is really great because it’s one of the ways, and maybe one of the only ways, that people who are engaged in a legal dispute keep control over the outcome of their case, by making their own decisions as opposed to throwing **** up to a judge to make a decision.

Jaime Davis: Yeah, I think that’s really important that when you agree to participate in mediation, you are able to add a lot more of those fine details to your settlement, maybe some more of the logistics about a holiday schedule, or a creative property settlement. I mean things that you’re just not gonna get, in my experience, if you allow a court to decide. So, I agree, I think it gives the parties a lot more control over the outcome of their case.

Lynn McNally: Yeah, that’s right. The parties are the people, the only people best suited to know what exactly their needs are. Family law cases are not one size fit all and particularly with custody, to know your children, and to know what’s best for them, mediation allows you make a much more complete agreement that suits your family’s needs than a judge could make after listening to your case for several hours, or several days.

Jaime Davis: I mean, that’s right. You know, for a lot of families it takes both parents to get the children where they need to go. I mean, kids these days have so many extracurricular activities, maybe a parent travels for work, maybe they have family who lives out of state and, you know, coordinating these holidays is gonna be difficult, and I think mediation really is a good way for those folks to be able to craft something that fits their family.

Lynn McNally: I agree.

Jaime Davis: So, if you decide that mediation is right for you in a family law case, how do you go about finding a mediator?

Lynn McNally: Well, there are several different ways. People who have retained their own lawyers in their family law dispute can seek the advice of their attorneys. We as family law attorneys mediate cases, representing our, our clients in cases, in mediation all the time, and we know who, the family, family financial certified mediators are. We know which ones do a great job and we’re able to recommend options to our clients. In the event that neither party, or one party, is not represented by a lawyer, and wants to engage in the mediation process, one way to find a mediator is to go to the North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission’s website where they keep a list of certified mediators. And I believe that those mediators are grouped by the kind of law that they can mediate, perhaps what they’re familiar with. Those of us who are certified as family financial mediators will be designated as such on the website. So, that’s a great resource as well.

Jaime Davis: So, if you’re dealing with the issues arising out of a separation such as child custody, child support, alimony, equitable distribution, what kind of mediator do you want?

Lynn McNally: Well, you need to have someone who is a certified family financial mediator. That is a person who has taken a number of hours of training, forty, I think is the, the current minimum hours of training, to be able to have that designation, and then there’s an application process. I like to choose family law attorneys to perform the mediations that I attend with my clients because they have a background in family law. It’s what they practice every day. They have, in most cases, familiarity with our judges and the legally system, and I feel like those folks are the ones best equipped to help facilitate a resolution.

Jaime Davis: I agree. I do the same thing in my cases. I think it’s really important that your mediator have an understanding of what the case might look like if it does end up in court and what could happen. You know, a mediator is not supposed to offer legal advice to either party, that’s the parties’ lawyer’s jobs to do that, but I do think it can be helpful sometimes to have, especially as a lawyer, have another opinion about your case. Maybe this third party can point out to you some weaknesses that you hadn’t thought about, or you know, the same thing with the other side, maybe when they’re talking to the other party they can tell them, hey, have you thought about this? You know, things that can help bring the parties together because at the end of the day, mediation is all about compromise. You walk in there thinking that you’re entitled to something. The other party walks in there thinking they’re entitled to, you know the same, if not more, and throughout the day both of you compromise to reach a resolution to the case. And, I think it’s really important to have someone who is familiar with a possible range of outcomes to help you through that process.

Lynn McNally: Right, and, well, and one of the things that I think mediators are great at doing is helping parties understand that even though that mediator might understand the law and might understand, or have some experience with our judges, there are no guarantees.

Jaime Davis: That’s right.

Lynn McNally: Court is an absolute risk and one of the goals of mediation is to manage against that risk of unknown.

Jaime Davis: Well, what about for folks who don’t have lawyers. Let’s say they’re trying to navigate this process by themselves. Do these folks need lawyers if they want to mediate their case?

Lynn McNally: No. You, you do not have to retain a lawyer to engage in the mediation process. There are certainly mediations that both parties are represented by legal counsel. There are mediations when one party is represented, but not the other, and there are mediations when neither party is represented by legal counsel, and that’s okay.

Jaime Davis: So, in those situations where neither person has a lawyer, does mediation look different for them?

Lynn McNally: A little bit in that assuming you reach a settlement during the mediation, your mediator is prohibited from drafting the document that embodies your settlement. The mediator can bullet point his or her understanding of what the settlement is, but one of the parties would need to go seek legal counsel to put that agreement in its final and proper form.

Jaime Davis: So, really, you would be leaving mediation as a pro se party, and pro se is just somebody who is representing him or herself, with a summary of the deal. Is that fair to say?

Lynn McNally: That’s fair to say. And, it, it, it’s important to know that any settlement of any of these family law issues isn’t final unless it’s in a valid document that complies with the law, and, so, you can’t just have a verbal agreement, and you can’t just have a bullet-point agreement. You have to have it formalized in the appropriate way, many times with each party’s signature, and those signatures notarized. So, in a typical mediation where there is at least one lawyer involved, that lawyer can put together the document to be signed and, and usually the goal is that it’s signed and is a done deal before everybody leaves mediation that day. The difference with a case where neither party is represented by counsel, is that they leave with that summary that you mentioned, and they have to have somebody put it in writing so that they can sign it after the fact.

Jaime Davis: But it seems like that would still greatly streamline the process if the two folks have already reached an agreement about the substance of how they’re gonna resolve their case, and then, you know, one or both of them takes that summary to a lawyer and has the lawyer review it. You know, they’ve already done a lot of that legwork, and agreed on the really hard parts of their case. They really just need someone who can put it in that formal document for them. So, I think mediation can still be helpful for folks who do not have lawyers going into the process.

Lynn McNally: Yes.

Jaime Davis: In your experience, how long does mediation last?

Lynn McNally: Well, it ranges. It can – it usually lasts a lot longer than people think. In my experience, a really efficient mediation with just a few issues can be resolved within 4 or 5 hours. More complicated cases, or cases where all of your issues are, are being negotiated, and by all of your issues, I mean typically custody, child support, the division of your property and debt, and whether one person owes the other any spousal support, those mediations can last 10, 12 hours, and sometimes you don’t finish it in one day. Sometimes you have to reconvene.

Jaime Davis: Yeah, those can be really exhausting, but I still think they can be really productive and help folks reach an agreement. I think the latest I’ve ever been in mediation is 1 a.m. What about you?

Lynn McNally: 6 a.m.

Jaime Davis: Wow. Okay, you win the prize for that one. See, I think I might have decided to come back for a second session. So, along those lines, is mediation expensive? I mean, if we’re talking about a session that can last hours and hours, how much is that gonna cost?

Lynn McNally: Well, good question. None of this process is terribly inexpensive, but in my experience, mediation, at least one that leads to a resolution or a narrowing of the issues, is far less expensive than having a trial. Mediators, at least in – we’re in Raleigh, North Carolina, and in, in this particular area, our family financial mediators charge an hourly rate. That hourly rate ranges between $150.00 an hour to $250.00 or $275.00 an hour. Typically the rule is that the parties divide the cost of that mediator’s fees equally. There’s also a small administrative fee, usually about $150.00 or $175.00 that’s charged by the mediator. And, so, you just do the math. If the mediation is 5 hours, it’s five times that particular mediator’s hourly rate, plus their administrative fee, typically divided by two, since each party is, should bear his or her own fee.

Jaime Davis: That does seem like a fairly cost-effective way to get a case resolved especially if you get a mediator with a reasonable rate, and the two of you are prepared. I think that’s also really important that if you go into the mediation session not having done your homework, it’s probably gonna take you a little longer. I know in my practice, I try to have a first-settlement offer at least put together by the time I get to mediation. Sometimes we’re in a position where a couple rounds of offers have already gone back and forth between the parties before we get there, and that really does seem to streamline the process and make it go a little faster. I agree with you, Lynn, it just depends on how many issues you have to work out. Some of these financial issues can, can take a long time because the devil is in the details, truly, and if you are trying to divide multiple financial accounts, maybe you have multiple credit card debts, you know, you gotta figure out who’s gonna live in the house, is somebody gonna sell it? You know, that just takes time to work through all of those issues, and so, to the extent you can exchange your financial documents before you get there, it really does make it go a lot faster, and I think it’s more productive that way. How do you know when it’s over?

Lynn McNally: Well, the obvious way is, if a case settles, it’s over when it settles, and documents are signed in most cases. There are some exceptions, and there are some reasons that documents don’t, or shouldn’t be signed that particular day. But for those cases where an impasse is reached it just depends on the particular case. In my experience, there would come a time in the mediation where people were just locked in their positions and wouldn’t move despite any business-decision conversations that I or the mediator might have. And, when I say business-decision conversations, we always talk about the cost of court versus the, the thing that they are stuck about. If they’re arguing over $5,000.00 and that’s gonna settle the case, then we talk to them about how if they leave that day and there is no settlement, it’s gonna cost way more than $5,000.00. So, they can give up or pay $5,000.00 and have a firmly done deal, or they can pay their lawyer a lot more than that to roll the dice and go to court. But, but that’s the – you know, hopefully, when those conversations are had there isn’t an impasse. But sometimes the, the, sometimes it’s not $5,000.00. Sometimes it’s something much larger than that, whether it’s financially larger or it, with custody-related issues.

Jaime Davis: Yeah, I think it’s really hard to have that, you know, business-decision conversation with someone when they are at odds over a custody schedule. You know, if a parent becomes really entrenched and believes that his or her schedule is what’s in the best of the child, and the other parent disagrees, you know, in my experience, it’s really hard to get folks off of that position.

Lynn McNally: Mm hmm. It’s really also very hard to settle in mediation, or otherwise, custody cases where there is a relocation or one parent lives very far away from the other because if both parents want primary time with their child, there, there, there’s nothing that’s gonna – there, there’s not a whole lot of ways to compromise that when there’s a great distance between the parents.

Jaime Davis: Right. It really is an all or nothing. I mean, it’s whether the parent is gonna be allowed to move to whatever state they want to go to, or whether they’re gonna have to stay here. And we often talk about, you know, folks and their best day in court, and their worst day in court, and really, if you agree to a relocation and you’re the person who doesn’t want the child to move, I mean, that really is your worst day in court. And, so, I think it’s really hard to push somebody to encourage them to accept that sort of settlement when really, that is the worst outcome that they could hope for.

Jaime Davis: Yeah. You know, though, while, while those kinds of cases might not be ideal for mediation as a mediator, that’s one of the times in my practice that I actually get to be creative about solutions, and as a lawyer that represents parties in mediations and court and otherwise, sometimes you get entrenched in your position. And even with those cases that are seemingly unresolvable, to have a neutral person with a fresh perspective that can be creative about ways to resolve the issue can sometimes solve the unsolvable problem.

Lynn McNally: Right, that’s a really good point. I mean, as the mediator, if you were able to come up with something that neither party or their lawyers has thought about that can be really helpful.

Jaime Davis: So, along those lines, what would you say are the main benefits of mediation?

Lynn McNally: Well, there’s so many but the main benefits I think are that as compared to court and a trial it’s far less expensive. It is much more time efficient. Usually, those things, mediation, usually things that we might take to mediation can be resolved within a day. You, as I mentioned before, maintain control over the outcome of your settlement versus running the risk of a judge making a decision that doesn’t really work for anybody, ’cause sometimes that happens. Sometimes judges don’t take either party’s position, and they create their own outcome that nobody contemplated. So, me, mediation, settling in mediation prevents that from happening.

Jaime Davis: Right, I mean, there is always a risk if you take your case to court. You just never know what’s gonna happen. I mean, the judge has the authority to decide the outcome, and you are allowing them to do that by taking your case to court.

Lynn McNally: Mm hmm.

Jaime Davis: So, I, I, I agree, mediation is really important.

Lynn McNally: Yeah. And even though we have great judges who are patient and listen to things, sometimes they don’t see things the way that we see them and that’s normal. They hear things differently than we might intend to present them. So, it’s just a huge risk that, that you can avoid with mediation. In fact, there are two kinds of claims in, in the family law realm that you’re required to mediate before you have to go to court, and that’s custody, and also your property and debt distribution. And, the reason that there is that requirement is because it’s much better to be able to reach a resolution of those things outside of court and it also relieves the court system. As we sit here today, it could take you months and maybe a year or more to get in court on some issues. And, with mediation, you avoid that too. You know when your mediation is gonna be. You go to your mediation. If it works, it’s resolved that day. With court, there is no guarantee about when it’s gonna be resolved.

Jaime Davis: With all of mediation’s benefits, do you think there are any downsides?

Lynn McNally: Well, you mentioned before being prepared for mediation, and I think that it is a negative if one or both parties is not prepared. And by prepared, I mean have exchanged the documents that they might need to evaluate a proposal, whether those are financial documents or otherwise? Those are the cases that mediation may not be fully productive because if you don’t have all the information to make a reasoned or informed decision, it’s hard to make that decision. But, you can use the mediation process to get things that you haven’t been able to get before, whether that is a financial statement, whether that is some understanding from the other party as to what really it is that he or she wants. So, you can use the mediation process to get those things, but if you don’t already have them when you go and sit down at the mediation table, the likelihood that you’re gonna resolve it is a little slimmer.

Jaime Davis: Yeah. As one of my very wise law partners tells me back from her days in working sales, confused people just don’t buy, and so, if you walk into the mediation not really having a full understanding of what the assets are, what the income is, what it is that you’re being asked to accept, it doesn’t make sense to you; and so, you’re never gonna agree to that because you feel like maybe the other side is hiding something, or that there is an asset they haven’t disclosed. And, so, I agree with you Lynn. I mean, having that document exchange is, is so important before you get there that day. What about you, in your experience, are there certain types of cases that are not right for mediation?

Lynn McNally: Yeah, I think in cases where there is any sort of domestic violence, mediation may not work. It still can, I’m not saying it doesn’t work in those cases, but if there is a case with a power imbalance that already exists in the marriage the person who does not have the power may not feel like they can voice their opinion about what they really want to have happen. I think having a lawyer represent you in a case like can help mitigate that risk and if you have a lawyer there who can help advocate for your position, you know, I think it can help, but again, it’s going to depend on the personality of the person and whether they are able to stand up for themselves and, and ask for what that really wanna have happen.

Jaime Davis: All right. That’s a good point. So, when you are acting as the lawyer representing a party in a mediation, how do you prepare for that?

Lynn McNally: Well, it depends, in part, on the issues that we are going to mediate. If the issues include property and debt distribution, then prior to going to mediation I want to have all of the documents that I think I need to assess a proposal, if I get one, or to make the proposal if I’m the one that’s gonna be making it.

Jaime Davis: And, when you say documents, what types of documents are you talking about?

Lynn McNally: Documents that would help me determine the values of certain assets or debts. For example, bank statements for some period of time, credit card statements. If there are appraisals of property, I’d like to see those. If there are businesses involved in these cases, that’s a whole different podcast.

Jaime Davis: Right. We probably don’t have time for that today.

Lynn McNally: But, but in general, things, documents that evidence the values of those assets and debts.

Jaime Davis: Okay, so, you get all those documents together and then what do you do with them?

Lynn McNally: Well, I, and I think most of my other fellow family law attorneys prepare what we call the spreadsheet.

Jaime Davis: Now, the spreadsheet is very important for mediation for sure.

Lynn McNally: And, we, we create the complete list of assets and debs, associating or attaching the values that we believe they have and distributing those assets and debts into the columns of either the husband or the wife, whatever, whoever the two parties are, so that you can determine what might be fair for your particular case, or at least how you wanna start to negotiate your particular case.

Jaime Davis: Right.

Lynn McNally: With respect to claims that in, involve support, whether it’s child support, or spousal support, if that’s an issue, I like to see tax returns. I like to see pay stubs still the banking account information and credit card account information is good, but anything else that might evidence income that a party receives. With respect to spousal support, if that’s an issue, I like to see evidence of both of the parties’ reasonable needs. And by that I mean, what’s your budget?

Jaime Davis: Right.

Lynn McNally: What you need to live on a monthly basis? What’s your mortgage payment or your rent? What’s your car payment? How much do you spend at the grocery store? Those things are very helpful, necessary really, in negotiating spousal support claims.

Jaime Davis: And, in our world, we typically call it a financial affidavit, right? We have–

Lynn McNally: That’s right.

Jaime Davis: –our clients put those together, but it’s basically a fancy word for budget.

Lynn McNally: Exactly. Exactly. And, then with respect to custody related things, many times there aren’t a whole lot of documents that you need. In some cases, there may be, but, but there, but typically, there isn’t with respect to custody. So, I take all of that information, I organize it, I create the spreadsheet for that case, and in most cases, I like to either prepare an initial offer and send it over in advance, or get an initial offer from the opposing party in advance, so that there is a place to start. One of the frustrating things about mediation is that it can take some time, but that’s just part of the process. And, if there is a way that I can, as a lawyer, prepare to make it more efficient, then that’s what I want to do. I also talk to my clients in advance of the mediation about what to expect. I want them to be comfortable. I want them to come with snacks, if that’s what they need, or a blanket, if they get cold. I want them to be in the space where they can be as comfortable as they can under the circumstances, be able to evaluate what the offers are and make good decisions about how to settle their case.

Jaime Davis: Yeah, I think that having the client be prepared for what to expect is very important. I think folks tend to get frustrated if they don’t know beforehand that there’s gonna be a lot of downtime, and that if they wanna bring a computer, or a book, or something like that that they can, you know, help occupy some of that free time, I think that that can be frustrating for folks.

Lynn McNally: Mm hmm.

Jaime Davis: So, yeah, I agree with you, having the client prepared for what to expect is very important.

Lynn McNally: Mm hmm. One of the things that I like to do with my clients, particularly if there has been a lawsuit filed – you know you can mediate cases without any lawsuit being filed.

Jaime Davis: That’s right.

Lynn McNally: But, but sometimes a lawsuit is filed, and the goal is to try and resolve it before you actually have a trial. But in those cases where there’s a lawsuit pending, and there’s a trial date down the road, I like to use those downtimes during mediation with my client to prepare for that trial, or to talk about strategy or do the next thing for their particular case, so that they’re actually using that time in a productive way even though it’s a downtime as far as mediation is concerned.

Jaime Davis: Right. Do you prepare any differently when you are acting as the mediator?

Lynn McNally: Yes. There is, in many cases no preparation aside from sending out your mediation agreements, and making sure that people know what time to get here, there isn’t a whole lot of preparation as the mediator. Typically, the mediator comes into a mediation cold with no information, except for perhaps the claims that he or she might mediating. And, I think that that’s in, in most cases a good dynamic. That person is supposed to be neutral. That mediator is a neutral person. They’re not supposed to interject their own judgments onto the case, and when they come into the mediation fresh without having reviewed anything, I think it sort of facilitates that objectivity. So I don’t do a lot of substantive or, if any, substantive preparation if I am the mediator in a case.

Jaime Davis: You mentioned a mediation agreement, what is that?

Lynn McNally: As a mediator, any mediator will put together an agreement for the parties to review and sign that describe what that mediator’s job is, and what the cost is. It’s kinda like a fee agreement with your lawyer, but with the mediator. So, it just details the mediator’s job, the mediator’s role, what they’re mediating, and the date of the mediation, how the fees are paid, and what the fees will be. So it sort of sets the administrative boundaries for the mediation that day.

Jaime Davis: So, everybody knows what the rules are before they get there?

Lynn McNally: That’s right.

Jaime Davis: One thing I want us to talk about that I don’t think we have touched on just yet is the momentum that can be gained during a mediation.

Lynn McNally: Yes.

Jaime Davis: What do you think about that?

Lynn McNally: It is – people are busy. Client, our clients are very busy. They have lives and, in many cases, children, and jobs. We are also busy attorneys. Our mediators are, in most cases, busy attorneys, and it is hard to get everybody focused on the same thing at the same time, but when you schedule a mediation and attend a mediation, everybody’s there under the same roof, at the same time, with the same goal, and, and that’s your singular focus for the day. And, it can take a negotiation, which maybe could result in a settlement without a mediator, but 3 or 4 months later, and get everybody in the same place at the same time talking about it so that you can a resolution very, very quickly.

Jaime Davis: I agree with you. I mean, there really is something to be gained from the process of mediation itself. The momentum can really help get the case settled. If you are not participating in mediation and, you know, your lawyer is drafting a settlement offer and sending it to the other side, even if it’s by email and not just regular old snail mail, there’s still gonna be a delay there, and, you know, those negotiations could take months, where if everybody is just there and focused on getting it done, I agree, it’s so much quicker. And, something else, even if you don’t get your case settled, per se, you are at least learning something about the other side’s position. Along those lines though, you know, can any of these offers that are being made in mediation, can they be used against you later?

Lynn McNally: No. The rules are explicitly set up to protect people who participate in negotiation during mediation and sometimes in a larger sense, negotiation period so that, that you feel comfortable to compromise without the worry that it’s gonna come back to bite you. For example, if you are in a mediation and you make a proposal to the other party that’s a compromise from what you want, and your case doesn’t settle, when you go to court, that compromise offer can’t be used against you. The other party can’t say, hey, didn’t you agree to do X in mediation? It’s, it’s off limits. So you can still go to court and take what you think is your best position without being worried that what you offered as a compromise in mediation would hurt your case. It, you know the information-gathering process during mediation is kind of interesting because you’re right, you get to learn about what the other party might argue, you get to learn about the existence of other, perhaps, documents that you might want to need, or to review, and you get that good information, but there is this confidential nature surrounding the process, which I think is helpful for the parties. One of the tactics that I employ sometimes, and I think a lot of lawyers do, is I want my mediator to know information. The more information my mediator has about the case, the more likely they are going to be able to settle the case. And, mediators are great to learn information from one side or the other and share that information pretty freely if they think it’s going to help resolve the case. If it’s inflammatory, there’s no need to go tell the other side ’cause it’s not gonna result in, in any productive discussion.

Jaime Davis: Right, like if your client is sitting there making some snarky comment about, you know, his or her spouse, a good mediator is not gonna tell that person what was said.

Lynn McNally: That’s right. That’s right. And, one of the, the great things about mediation is that you can share that information that you think your mediator needs to know with a caveat that you don’t want that particular piece of information shared in the other room, and your mediator is bound to honor that. So you can give the mediator all the information he or she needs, but also protect what you don’t want to get disclosed at any particular time to the other party.

Jaime Davis: That’s a really good point. Folks always ask, am I gonna have to show all my cards to the other side? And, and I usually tell them, no. You know, your lawyer will help you decide what information you need to save for court, and if your lawyer ever finds him or herself in the position of having to cross-examine the other party, they’re not gonna want that person to know every little bit of evidence that, that we may have about the case. But that’s the beauty of being able to tell the mediator so the mediator knows, but the other side necessarily isn’t going to find out. I think this has been a really great discussion today about mediation, Lynn. Thank you so much for joining us. If anyone has questions for you, what is the best way for them to reach you?

Lynn McNally: I can be pretty easily found on my law firm’s website, and that web address is

Jaime Davis: That’s great. Thanks again, Lynn. I hope you all enjoyed this episode of A Year and a Day. If you have any suggestions for future episodes, I would love to hear from you. Please email me at As a reminder, while in my role as a lawyer my job is to give folks legal advice, the purpose of this podcast is not to do that. This podcast is for general informational purposes only. It should not be used as legal advice and is specific only to the law in North Carolina. If you have questions, before you take any action, you should consult with a lawyer who is licensed in your state.

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'A Year and a Day: Divorce Without Destruction' is a law podcast produced by Gailor Hunt Davis Taylor & Gibbs, PLLC partner Jaime Davis. You can learn more about Jaime's experience and expertise on her bio page. If you have a question about the podcast, you can email Jaime at Please note, the purpose of this podcast is not to give legal advice. This podcast is for general, informational purposes only and should not be used as legal advice. The information discussed in this podcast is specific to the laws in North Carolina. Before you take any legal action you should consult with a lawyer who is licensed in your state.
lynn mcnally podcast guest
The guest on this episode of our podcast is Lynn McNally, a family law attorney and partner at the law firm of Smith Debnam Narron Drake Saintsing & Myers, LLP, in Raleigh, North Carolina. You can learn more about Lynn's experience and expertise on her bio page. If you have a question about anything discussed in the podcast, you can email Lynn at

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