Divorcing couples who cannot agree may find themselves in mediation. Fulton County requires all divorcing spouses to work with a mediator before settling a divorce in a trial. In many cases, couples can resolve their issues with a mediator’s help and avoid costly and time-consuming litigation.
You do not need to wait for a family judge to order you to work with a mediator. Couples often find the process helpful earlier in the divorce process. A trusted divorce attorney can explain how mediation works and why it could be advantageous in your case. Speak with an Atlanta, GA, mediation lawyer from our firm to learn more about the possibility of achieving a swift and amicable end to your marriage.
The Official Code of Georgia § 19-5-1 allows a judge to refer a couple for mediation before a divorce trial. Mediation is a private process involving only the mediator, the couple, and in some cases, the couple’s attorneys.
Professional mediators must be registered with the state. They are specially trained professionals, usually lawyers, who maintain a safe space for a couple to discuss their differences. The mediator might explain legal requirements or procedures but is not acting as an attorney when mediating and cannot offer legal advice to either party.
Spouses will discuss their areas of disagreement during the mediation. The mediator will keep conversations focused, civil, and productive.
A mediator is trained to ensure that each person hears the others’ needs and concerns. Many couples say the same words to each other for months without actually hearing what the other is trying to communicate. A mediator can find common ground between couples and help them build on it until they reach a resolution both individuals can live with.
Some couples can resolve their issues in one mediation session. Others might require two or three sessions. The length of sessions depends on the mediator’s schedule and preferences and the way the couple works together. Half-day sessions are the most common.
Although many couples find mediation helpful, it does not work for everyone. If either spouse feels the session is unproductive, they could terminate it. Although a family court might order a couple to try mediation, each spouse must be willing to be vulnerable, listen, and compromise for it to be successful. If the mediation adjourns without an agreement, the couple resumes the litigated divorce process. A dedicated Georgia attorney can help spouses better understand what to expect from mediation during a private consultation.
Many couples settle all their outstanding issues when they engage in mediation. When a couple reaches a settlement agreement, the mediator formalizes it in writing and gives each person a copy. It is advisable to review the mediation document with an Atlanta attorney who can ensure that a spouse understands every provision before they sign.
Once both parties have signed the settlement, the mediator submits it to the Georgia family court. The judge will review it and may hold a hearing. If the judge is satisfied with the terms of the agreement and the participation of both spouses, they will issue a divorce decree.
Mediation can help you, and your spouse reach a settlement to end your marriage more quickly, less expensively, and more privately than taking your issues to court. Another advantage of mediation is that it allows a couple more control over the divorce process rather than leaving important family matters to a judge.
Whether you are just beginning the process of ending your marriage or a judge has ordered you to mediation before scheduling a trial, an Atlanta, GA mediation lawyer can help you. Reach out to our team today.