What Is Divorce Mediation?
Mediation refers to formal discussions between conflicting parties and a neutral third party with the goal of a mutually agreed-upon result. The mediator does not have the authority to issue a decision or impose a settlement. They facilitate communication in an attempt to help the parties reach an agreement and avoid litigation in Court.
Issues Discussed in Mediation:
- Property division
- Valuing a family business
- Child custody (parenting plan)
- Child support
- Spousal support
- Other matters relating to the end of a marriage
Is Divorce Mediation Mandatory?
Judges may order any contested divorce to mediation but are more likely to require them in Georgia counties with alternate dispute resolution (ADR) programs. For people living in Marietta, Judges usually refer them to the Cobb County Superior Court ADR Program. Although you may petition the Court to remove your case from mediation, mediation is not always optional.
The Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution (GODR) helps fulfill the state Constitutional mandate of “the speedy, efficient, and inexpensive resolution of disputes and prosecutions” within the court system.
Domestic Violence Exceptions
Mediation is not usually appropriate for divorces involving domestic violence. Trying to reach a balance based on mutual respect is challenging enough without an added element of physical violence or the threat of violence.
If the domestic abuse survivor wishes to move ahead with mediation, they can meet separately with the mediator. The mediator relays the information to the other party. Even online mediations can be separate to ensure the safety and comfort of the victim.
You and your former spouse may want to return to mediation after divorce if there are significant changes needed to child custody, alimony, and other matters. In this case, it would likely be a private mediation. An attorney can help you find a mediator from an approved list of sources.
What to Bring to Mediation
- Financial affidavit
- Business records
- Tax returns
- Deeds or mortgage statements
- Account balances
The mediator or the court clerk will tell you if you need additional documents.
Divorce Mediation & Legal Representation
A mediator is not an attorney or a judge. They cannot give legal or financial advice. Most counties require legal counsel to attend mediation. Even if the Court does not need your attorney to attend, you should have an attorney by your side to protect your rights and interests.
Benefits of Mediation
Mediation can reduce tension in contested divorces because it is more informal than a courtroom. Even if you and your spouse fail to reach a complete agreement, you might find it possible to meet halfway on many vital issues.
Reasons to Consider Mediation:
- It is less expensive than litigation because it reduces an attorney’s billable hours spent drafting motions and arguing in Court.
- Mediation is private. Unlike a court proceeding, discussions and agreements in mediation remain confidential.
- Both parties select topics to discuss and define the terms of any agreement. You have more control over mediation than court-dictated hearings.
- It is more convenient. Mediation is not tied to a court schedule, which can be backed up for weeks or months.
- Mediation shields children from the emotional trauma of a trial.
Mediations either end with a voluntary agreement between the parties or without any decisions reached. It is the hope that mediation can bring a spark of understanding or cooperation moving forward, but that is not always the case.
Agreement or Partial Agreement
If the parties reach an agreement or partial agreement, the mediator will put the settlement in writing. Each party has ten days for review (with their respective attorneys) and approval. Issues that remain unresolved will return to the Judge assigned to the case.
Uncontested divorces – when both parties agree to child custody, financial issues, and other matters – can be resolved without the expense or stress of going to Court.
Our Mediation Lawyers Are Ready to Help
Mediation is a cost-effective alternative to court. However, some spouses may try to intimidate the other party during mediation despite the separation provided by an objective, third-party mediator. You do not have to accept unacceptable divorce terms when you have an attorney listening and supporting your goals.
A divorce mediation attorney helps even the playing field. The Gentry Law Firm has helped clients reach their goals with our aggressive yet compassionate divorce strategies.
Our attorneys handle every aspect of mediation:
- Aggressive Representation in Mediation & Court
- Ensuring Equitable Terms for Custody & Support
- Accurate Valuation of Assets & Debts
- Division of stock options, pension funds & 401(k)s
- Pursuing Contempt & Enforcement Actions
- Filing temporary or emergency custody orders when necessary