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MEDIATION


 

 General Mediation

Heated Argument

The most commonly utilized form of alternative dispute resolution is mediation. Mediation is a process where a neutral third party, called a mediator, helps parties reach an agreement, settling part or all of their differences. Mediation is often used in civil suits including divorce and other family law matters. In some jurisdictions, mediation is mandatory, while in others it is wholly voluntary but highly encouraged. Mediation is very successful in that over 75% of all matters that go to mediation are successfully resolved there.

 

The mediation process is confidential and informal in nature. There are no court officials present and the process is non-binding, unless an agreement is reached. If a settlement is reached on all or part of the issues, the mediator may assist the parties by drafting the mediated settlement agreement. This agreement is binding unless the parties agree otherwise.

 

The actual conduct of the mediation may be different depending upon the style of the individual mediator and the nature of the case. Mediator styles can vary greatly from person to person from assertive to very aloof and several degrees between. It is important to consult your attorney and find a mediator that you think you can work well with.

 

Typically mediation begins in a joint session, meaning both parties are present in the room. The mediator introduces him or herself and explains the mediation process. Each party then has an opportunity to give an opening statement, an overview of the issues in the case from their perspective and what they hope to accomplish in mediation. After opening statements, the negotiations begin. The mediator may move back and forth between joint and private meetings, called caucuses. During this process, the mediator assists the parties in clarifying interests, discussing areas of agreement and disagreement, and examining possible solutions.

 

 Divorce Mediation

Mediation during a divorce generally follows the same structure as non-divorce mediation. The mediator will work with both spouses and help them reach a negotiated settlement. If a settlement is reached and the spouses enter into a mediated agreement, one side drafts formal settlement documents based on that agreement, which are then filed with the court.

 

Mediation can be especially helpful to divorcing parents. Unlike non-divorce civil cases, the parties in a divorce will remain connected through the rest of their lives by the fact that they are both parents to their children. They will need to continue to communicate effectively and work together to raise their children. Mediation can help the spouses adjust to the changes in their family and help them develop tools and strategies necessary for joint parenting.

 

Law book

The State of Georgia requires that mediators who wish to register to mediate divorce cases attend special domestic mediation training sessions. Even though the mediator does not provide legal advice, it is important to obtain a mediator that has divorce training, knowledge, and experience.  A mediator experienced in divorce will be able to spot issues and problems unique to family law that may otherwise be overlooked.  While a great deal of flexibility is given to spouses to craft their own mediated agreement, that agreement cannot be contrary to Georgia divorce, child support, and child custody laws.

 

 Pre-Divorce Mediation

Pre-Divorce Mediation is one of the newest options available to divorcing spouses. If the spouses cannot agree on the terms of the divorce but do not want to fight through the contested divorce process they should consider Pre-Divorce Mediation. During the Pre-Divorce Mediation session, the spouses meet with an experienced mediator who will work with them to resolve their difference. Once the spouses are in agreement they may then file an uncontested divorce.

 

By using Pre-Divorce Mediation and filing an uncontested divorce, the spouses generally proceed through the divorce process quicker and save thousands of dollars in legal fees compared to fighting in court. Pre-divorce mediation is not appropriate for all cases so it is important to consult an attorney when evaluating your options.

 

 Mediate to Stay Married

While other forms of mediation help spouses proceed to obtaining a divorce, Mediate to Stay Married is a potential alternative to divorce entirely. Spouses experiencing marital difficulties meet with an experienced mediator who works with them to identify, negotiate, and resolve problems so as to avoid divorce. The process is not marriage counseling. Rather, The mediator works with each spouse to identify points of contention, clarify interests, facilitate effective communication, and develop a mediated agreement that addresses each spouse's concerns.

 

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