It is not uncommon for parties in a dispute to completely disregard the mediation process and advance full steam ahead with litigation. This holds true in both business and family law cases. Experienced lawyers will tell you that this can be a costly mistake as sometimes all it takes to settle a dispute is a third party perform a reality check on the situation. Mediation allows parties to try to work out settlement terms that they can all live with, unlike a lawsuit, where a judge makes the final decision.
In mediation, the parties employ a mediator, who is a third party neutral, to help them confidentially and cooperatively work toward a settlement. Typically, the parties will begin the process in the same room, where the mediator will explain how he or she operates. Then the parties will each separately meet with the mediator and lay out their points of view and any possible resolutions. The mediator effectively guides the parties through the process and may assess each party’s position and point out how the dispute would likely play out in a court of law. During mediation, the parties can have as much or as little direct contact as they desire, which is sometimes to key to resolving disputes where there is bad blood between the parties.
The Georgia court system recognizes that mediation is a valuable tool in alternative dispute resolution, and many counties provide mediation and alternative dispute resolution information and resources on their court websites, some of which are listed below. If you have questions about the mediation process or other methods of alternative dispute resolution, make sure to contact an experienced attorney.