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Spouses facing a divorce or parents disputing their children’s custody may want to consider the financial and emotional impact that a lengthy court battle could have on them and their family. Mediation is a viable alternative to aggressive litigation, and the benefits of this process make it worth considering.

If you have a contested family law matter and want to avoid going to court, a Cumming mediation lawyer can help. One of our firm’s experienced attorneys can explain the mediation process, prepare you for settlement negotiations, and assist you in finalizing an agreement.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a confidential process in which the parties to a dispute attempt to negotiate a settlement without going to court. The mediator, a neutral third party with specific training in family law issues, facilitates discussion between the parties in an effort to resolve their dispute. The parties make the final decision, not the mediator, and any settlement they reach is voluntary.

The Process of Mediation in Cumming

During mediation, the parties meet with the mediator, usually in an informal setting such as the mediator’s office or conference room. The parties and their attorneys decide in advance whether legal representatives will also attend the mediation. The parties may schedule as many meetings as necessary to resolve their case.

Prior to mediation, the parties may exchange any information that might help them resolve their issues, including financial statements, an itemization of each other’s property, and proposed child custody schedules. During mediation, the mediator will hear each party’s position and encourage respectful negotiations with the goal of resolving all disputes.

Is a Mediated Agreement Legally Enforceable?

If the parties reach a settlement, the mediator or one of the party’s attorneys will draft a written agreement for the parties to review. A signed, mediated agreement is binding on both parties and may become part of a court order, such as a divorce decree. An experienced mediation attorney in the Cumming area can help ensure that the final settlement is fair to whichever party they represent.

Benefits of Mediation

Under Official Code of Georgia Annotated §19-5-1, judges in and around Cumming may refer any contested family law case to mediation. Mediation offers a multitude of benefits that often make litigation not worth the trouble.

Control over the Outcome

Unlike a trial where a judge makes the final decision, the mediator does not control the resolution of a case. The parties decide how to settle the dispute, and they cannot be forced to do anything. The parties also have some control over the scheduling of the mediation sessions, rather than having to abide by a court’s strict schedule.

Confidential Negotiations

Anything the parties discuss or present in mediation is confidential, including documents or other information about their finances and children. However, if they go to a trial, the parties must testify and present evidence in a open court where anyone can listen to their case. Because family law matters often involve very private, sensitive issues, maintaining confidentiality can significantly benefit both parties and their family.

A Collaborative Process

Mediation’s collaborative process can reduce the tension and hostility between disputing parties by ensuring that each party’s voice is heard. Mediators encourage respectful, productive negotiations that focus on moving the parties forward, unlike litigation, which often involves the parties rehashing their past disputes. Cooperative negotiations can also help the parties improve their communication skills, enabling them to resolve future conflicts more successfully.

Less Time and Money

In mediation, the parties could resolve their case in a matter of hours or weeks, rather than having to appear for numerous court conferences and hearings and waiting months for each one. Additionally, in litigation, parties can incur additional costs for expert witnesses, custody evaluations, and exhibit preparation.

Work with a Skilled Mediation Attorney on Our Team

Mediation provides spouses and parents in contested divorce and custody cases a viable alternative to litigation. An experienced Cumming mediation lawyer can thoroughly prepare you for the negotiations and, in many cases, attend the meetings with you. If a settlement is reached, our team can help prepare a comprehensive, written agreement or review any settlement agreement prepared by the mediator. Contact our firm to learn more about this alternative form of dispute resolution.

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