Every situation is unique. These are general answers – they are not a replacement for an individualized consultation.
WHY SHOULD I CHOOSE TO MEDIATE MY DIVORCE?
In Georgia, over 93% of all filed divorces are settled prior to a trial. Parties settle their differences rather than go to trial for a variety of reasons. One important reason is that they would rather make their own decisions than have a judge or jury make those decisions for them.
If you are going to make your own decisions in the end, mediation can be used early in the divorce process and will result in a less expensive, less contentious, and more efficient path to agreement.
A contested divorce can cost up to $100,000, particularly if extensive assets and children are involved. Much of that cost is spent preparing for a trial that, in most cases, never happens. Mediation can preserve a families’ assets which will put them in a much better financial position for their post-divorce lives.
HOW DOES MEDIATION WORK?
Mediation is most efficient if you can provide the mediator information about your financial and parenting issues in advance of mediation. At the beginning of a mediation, both parties usually meet with the mediator together to outline the key issues to be discussed. Parties can then decide if they prefer to continue the mediation together or in separate rooms. Speaking with the mediator individually can allow the mediator to work with each party to refine and communicate their positions. It also encourages open and confidential discussions that can help make negotiations more productive.
The parties may choose to mediate one aspect of their case, such as child-related concerns including custody and parenting time, or they may choose to mediate all of the issues including child support, alimony, and division of property. Depending on the complexity of the case and the preferences of the parties, the mediation can take place in a single day or through a series of meetings over several days.
HOW LONG DOES MEDIATION TAKE?
A single mediation session usually lasts from two to four hours depending on a variety of factors – how much time the parties have to spend, how much progress is being made, if all necessary information is readily available, etc. Sometimes, all issues are resolved in a single session and a document can be drafted while the parties wait. In other cases, the parties meet with the mediator several times as necessary and documents are drafted and revised in between those meetings. Mediation can be as flexible as needed.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER AN AGREEMENT IS REACHED?
When a resolution is reached, a mediation agreement is drafted by the mediator. If you are not represented by an attorney at the mediation you can choose to have the mediation agreement reviewed by an attorney prior to signing the agreement. An attorney hired by one party will prepare and file the remaining documents required for the divorce to be completed.
WHY WOULD I HAVE MY AGREEMENT REVIEWED BY AN ATTORNEY?
We highly recommend mediation agreements be reviewed by an attorney because divorce involves important legal rights and responsibilities. Parties are also encouraged to consult an attorney before or during mediation.
IS A MEDIATION AGREEMENT A BINDING LEGAL DOCUMENT?
Generally, a signed mediation agreement is a binding legal contract.