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Patra A Sinner, Principal at Sodoma Law​How long have you been practicing family law?

I have been practicing family law for more than 17 years and became a North Carolina Board Certified Specialist in Family Law in 2008. I am licensed in both North Carolina and South Carolina.

When did you become interested in mediation?

My interest in mediation started very early in my practice because I found it to be one of the most cost efficient and direct approaches to resolving family law cases. It allows the parties to avoid the time and cost of court, while maintaining control of the details that impact their families. I have completed a required family financial mediation certification course and have been certified as a mediator for both North Carolina and South Carolina mediation cases.

What is mediation?

Mediation is a means of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) where it is possible to resolve claims between the parties without Court intervention. Parties have the option to participate in private mediation before a lawsuit is filed. If both parties agree, they can engage the services of a mediator to help facilitate a resolution of their claims at any time. If the parties are involved in litigation (meaning a lawsuit has been filed) then there are requirements for the parties to complete mediation before certain types of claims will be scheduled for a hearing. This is intended to encourage self-directed settlements.

Are parties required to have attorneys to participate in mediation?

No. I can conduct mediations where both parties have attorneys, where only one party is represented by an attorney, or when neither party is represented individually by an attorney. I do not represent either of the parties or attorneys. My role as a mediator is to help the parties (and their attorneys if applicable) understand the issues and obstacles to reaching an agreement, and to try to overcome them.

How are mediations conducted?

We typically set aside at least ½ to a full day to allow enough time to process all issues in dispute. We conduct these sessions at my office, or other location as mutually agreed. As necessary, we conduct mediation sessions remotely via Zoom, Teams and other applications. Additional sessions are scheduled as needed.

Do you draft the settlement documents if agreement is reached at mediation?

To the extent terms are reached, I help memorialize the general listing of terms throughout the mediation session, but this is not the formal settlement document. I am prohibited by mediation rules of practice from drafting the settlement document that results from reaching a settlement at mediation. If one or both parties are represented by attorneys at mediation, the attorney(s) will prepare the formal settlement documents for review and execution by the parties at mediation or at some time thereafter as agreed by the parties. If neither party is represented by an attorney at mediation, I can provide referrals to attorneys who can help prepare the formal settlement document to implement the terms agreed at mediation.

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