is basically a guided discussion about your situation. What is different from you and the other person talking directly is that there is a third party -the mediator- present who helps keep the conversation on track and moving forward. The mediator’s job isn’t to take sides or determine who is “right” or “wrong.” Rather, it is to help you each weigh out your options so you can make decisions and get things resolved. The mediator stays neutral and keeps the conversation balanced.
Mediations usually take a couple of hours or more. Sometimes, everyone is in the room together and sometimes you and the other party will be in separate rooms. or what’s called a caucus. The whole process is confidential, meaning the mediator doesn’t talk about your case to anyone else, including a judge. It also means that you can’t call the mediator as a witness to your case should it go before a judge. The idea is create a space where everyone can speak freely in an attempt to resolve the issues collaboratively.
What gets discussed in mediation varies depending on what the parties have to come to agreement on. With separation and divorce mediation, we’ll talk about the following as they apply:
Asset & Debt Division
Parenting Plans for the Children
Financial Support for the Children
Financial Support for a Spouse
Once agreements are reached, they’ll be written down and the parties will sign that document. Depending on where you are in the court process, this document, or Settlement Agreement, may be legally binding at the time of signing or it may get submitted to the court as a part of your filing.
Speaking of court, in Georgia, all contested divorces are sent to mediation at some point in the process. You have the option of mediating privately before you file with the court or waiting for a judge to tell you to mediate. You also have the option of choosing your mediator or letting the court pick one for you. Once you’re in mediation, you always have the power to make your own decisions versus in court where the judge will make those decisions for you. If you want to maintain as much control of your divorce as possible (meaning time, money, and privacy), then mediating privately before filing with court will get you this.