What is mediation?
is a process by which a third, neutral person facilitates negotiations between
other parties who are in conflict.
Basically speaking, a “mediator” will help you try to find a mutually
acceptable resolution. In mediation the
concern is not about who is at fault, but rather what can be done to settle the
Is mediation mandatory?
Yes. In hopes that parties will be able to resolve
their conflicts in mediation, all contested
domestic relations cases (i.e., divorce, modification, contempt) must be
submitted to the ADR Program prior to placement on a court calendar. This means that unless you have a SIGNED
agreement, you must attend a mediation session prior to a temporary hearing. Although you are ordered to appear for a
mediation session, you are never required to reach an agreement in
mediation. However, reaching an
agreement in mediation could mean saving you time and money.
Why is mediation mandatory?
The ADR Program was established to
assist parties in resolving their conflict.
In domestic cases with children, the parents know what is best for their
children and given an opportunity, are happier making decisions for their
family rather than having a judge or jury determine their fate. You control the outcome of the mediation session.
When does the mediation occur?
mediation session should take place thirty (30) days after the date the answer
is either filed or due, whichever comes first.
A mediation session may be set prior to the filing of an answer with the
consent of the Respondent/Defendant.
Where does the mediation occur?
mediation session will be held in the county where the case is filed unless
otherwise agreeable. For example, if a
case is filed in Henry County, the mediation will either take place in the
Henry County Courthouse in McDonough or a mediator’s office located in Henry
What is the role of the mediator?
The neutral or “Mediator,” will
attempt to assist you in working out a solution that is fair, reasonable, and
acceptable as a way to resolve the dispute.
The mediator will not make any decisions for you, but rather help you
and the other party determine what is the best course of action for all
involved. The mediator will not act as a
judge or jury and will not offer advice or predict outcomes.
How is the mediator chosen?
either select any mediator registered in the appropriate category with the
Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution or have this office assign a mediator from
the rotational list. Selection of a
neutral may obligate parties to a higher hourly rate.
Is there a cost for
Yes. For those cases wherein a mediator has been
chosen, parties agree to pay his/her selected rate. You will find information on each mediator as
well as their selected rate in the neutral’s section of this website. For those cases wherein a mediator is
assigned by the ADR Office, the mediator can only charge up to $100.00 per hour
to be divided equally between the parties.
This office does provide for fee waiver and fee reductions. If you can not pay the mediation fees or need
assistance, please contact this office immediately. Please note that all
requests for fee waivers must be made at least three (3) days prior to the
scheduled mediation date unless authorized by the ADR Director.
Why do I have to pay when I did not file the action?
otherwise agreed upon, the mediation fees must be split equally between the
parties. Although you did not file the
action, you are still required to pay your costs of the mediation session. The mediation is being offered as a low-cost
alternative to court litigation. Again,
fee waivers and fee reductions are available for those who can not afford the
cost of the mediation session.
How do I schedule mediation?
mediation is mandatory in all contested domestic cases, it is the
responsibility of the parties to file the necessary paperwork with the ADR
Office to schedule a mediation session.
For each domestic case, this office needs a completed Mediation Initiation
Form and Domestic Relations Screening form along with the respective filing
(i.e. complaint for divorce, answer to modification, etc.). All of our forms are available for download
in our forms section of the website. You
may hand-deliver, mail, fax or email the required forms to our office.
How do I prepare myself for
on the nature of your case, a financial affidavit may be needed at the
mediation session. You will find a blank
financial affidavit on this website available for download. Also in the forms section of the website is a
“How to prepare for domestic mediation.”
This informational sheet goes into detail on what documents are needed for
Do we have to be in the same room during the mediation?
No. If you are uncomfortable being in the same
room with the other party, you or your attorney should contact this office and
request separate rooms. It is normal for
the mediator to separate the parties into separate rooms sometime during the
Who is allowed in the room at mediation?
parties to the case as well as their respective attorneys and the mediator are
allowed in the mediation session. New
spouses, relatives, friends, etc., may accompany you to the mediation session
but will not be allowed to participate in the session. You are free to consult with anyone during
the mediation session.
Can I bring my children to the mediation?
NO. Children should never be brought to the
mediation session and will not be allowed to participate in mediation with some
exceptions. There is no one at the
mediation center or courthouse to supervise the children when you are in the
room with the mediator. Prior childcare
arrangements should be made for the mediation session.
I am a victim of domestic violence; do I have to
Office is required to screen each case for domestic violence. Screening procedures include questions on the
initiation form, the domestic violence screening form, review of the pleadings
when made available and consultation with the alleging party. When domestic violence is made known, the
decision of whether to mediate or not is left up to the victim. Family violence petitions and/or orders are
never appropriate for mediation. Divorce
cases wherein family violence petitions have been simultaneously filed may be
mediated with the consent of the alleging party.
I don’t have an attorney or my attorney is not coming
to the mediation session, what do I need to do?
While it is
not mandatory, attorney’s presence in mediation is definitely encouraged. Parties benefit from having their attorneys
present for a number of reasons.
However, not everyone is able to afford an attorney at mediation. Since the only requirement is your presence,
once you have reviewed and signed the guidelines for mediation, you are free to
terminate the session at any time. It is
to your benefit; however, to see if anything can be worked out at the mediation
session. If you do not have
representation at the mediation session, and you reach an agreement, you will
be given an opportunity of up to ten (10) days to have any agreement reviewed
by an attorney. In the event your
attorney deems the agreement to not be in your best interest or you simply
change your mind, you or your attorney can rescind the agreement by notifying
the ADR in writing. Since all of the
communication in mediation is confidential with the exception of a written
agreement, you are free to negotiate without the fear of being bound to any terms.