Managing Partner Melissa Gott is a Collaborative Law Attorney with Coastal Collaborative Colleagues, and a certified North Carolina mediator for both superior court and financial (family law) matters.  For more information about the mediation process in North Carolina, go to The North Carolina Court System.

Collaborative Law

What is Collaborative Law?

Collaborative Law is an alternative to traditional litigation, which can be costly, adversarial, and prolonged. Collaborative Law is a reasonably-priced dispute resolution process established by North Carolina law for settling disputes outside of court.

The Collaborative Law process employs a client-selected team of specifically trained and educated in interest based communication and negotiation consisting of legal professionals, coaches, mental health professionals, and financial professionals working together to assist clients in reaching a mutually acceptable settlement.

How Does the Collaborative Process Work?
The Collaborative Law process proceeds in a series of conferences between the team professionals and the clients.  Once the parties have each retained a collaborative attorney, the parties identify what other team members may be appropriate for their situation and budget.  Other than legal professionals, the potential team members include coaches, mental health professionals, and financial professionals, a child specialist, and a co-parenting advisor.  After the team is identified, the clients and team work together to gather information, identify the parties’ needs and interests, brainstorm creative resolutions, evaluate and determine resolutions, and memorialize the parties’ agreement in a written agreement.  Because of the team-centered approach, Collaborative Law works exceptionally well in divorce cases.


Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) available to parties.  Mediation is essentially a negotiation facilitated by a neutral third party, a mediator.  ADR procedures can be initiated by the parties or may be compelled by legislation, the courts, or contractual terms.

Is Mediation Right for You?
When parties are unwilling or unable to resolve a dispute, one good option is to turn to mediation. Mediation is generally a short-term, structured, task-oriented, and “hands-on” process.

In mediation, the disputing parties work with a neutral third party, the mediator, to resolve their disputes. The mediator facilitates the resolution of the parties’ disputes by supervising the exchange of information and the bargaining process. The mediator helps the parties find common ground and deal with unrealistic expectations.  The role of the mediator is to interpret concerns, relay information between the parties, frame issues, and define the problems.

When to Mediate
Mediation is usually a voluntary process, although sometimes statutes, rules, or court orders may require participation in mediation. Unlike the litigation process, where a neutral third party (usually a judge) imposes a decision over the matter, the parties and their mediator ordinarily control the mediation process — deciding when and where the mediation takes place, who will be present, how the mediation will be paid for, and how the mediator will interact with the parties.

After a Mediation
If a resolution is reached, a settlement agreement will be drafted by the attorneys.  If an agreement is not reached, the parties may decide to pursue their claims in other forums.

The mediation process is generally considered more prompt, inexpensive, and procedurally simple than formal litigation. It allows the parties to focus on the underlying circumstances that contributed to the dispute, rather than on narrow legal issues. The mediation process does not focus on truth or fault. Questions of which party is right or wrong are generally less important than the issue of how the problem can be resolved. Disputing parties who are seeking vindication of their rights or a determination of fault will not likely be satisfied with the mediation process.