Steps In Divorce Mediation
Many spouses in the Atlanta area who are planning to get divorced will turn to divorce mediation to resolve existing disputes so that they can have an uncontested divorce. As you may know, an uncontested divorce—one in which the spouses have reached an agreement on all issues—can go much more quickly than a contested divorce in which one or more issues remain in dispute. Even with an uncontested divorce, Georgia law requires you to wait 31 days from the date of filing an acknowledgment of service of the divorce petition, after which your divorce can be finalized. How can you have an uncontested divorce if one or more issues remains in dispute, from a property division matter to child custody? You can turn to divorce mediation.
While each party’s situation and circumstances will be unique, the following are the general steps in a divorce mediation in Georgia.
- Determine Whether You Will Be Engaging in Divorce Mediation through the Georgia Courts or through Private Mediation
The first step in any divorce mediation involves how you get to mediation. Will you utilize a private mediator prior to filing for divorce? Have you already filed for divorce and you are attending mediation through a court referral? Has your case been pending for a while and you are attending a judge has ordered mediation? If you have decided to arrange a private divorce mediation on your own, you will be responsible for setting up the mediation. Generally speaking, courts can order mediation in certain divorce cases, requiring the parties to attend mediation to attempt to resolve issues in dispute. When couples have been ordered to mediate, they will go through the county and will usually set up mediation and pay for mediation services with the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) office or program in that county, such as through the DeKalb County ADR program or the Fulton County ADR Office. Each county has its own set mediation rates.
- Learn the Costs and Pay for Mediation
If you have been ordered to mediation by the court, or if you have asked the court for a mediation referral because of the contested nature of your divorce case, you may be eligible for low-cost mediation, which may be free for a certain amount of time or may cost a small amount, such as between $100-$200 for a mediation session. Private mediation will cost more, and the spouses will often split the cost.
- Divorce Mediation Orientation
In the orientation portion of your divorce mediation, you should expect for the mediator (the neutral third party who will facilitate communication during the process) to gather information about the issues at stake in the divorce and to learn more about each spouse’s needs and wants as part of the divorce case.
- Communication to Resolve Disputes
Once the mediator and the parties have made clear what issues are at stake in their divorce, and what the needs and wants of each party include, the mediator will facilitate communication between the parties and encourage them to consider potential compromises and solutions. Sometimes this can be accomplished in one mediation session. Sometimes parties return for a second or subsequent mediation session.
- Negotiation of the Agreement
If the parties are able to resolve the issues in dispute, they can sign a mediated agreement or settlement agreement. Otherwise, the parties will typically have their issues heard by a judge, who will make a decision. In some cases, parties will need to collect more information and return to mediation in the hopes of reaching a resolution without the Court’s involvement.
Contact an Atlanta Divorce Mediation Lawyer
If you have questions about divorce mediation, one of our Atlanta mediation attorneys can speak with you today. Contact Kaye, Lembeck, Hitt & French to learn more.