What is Mediation?

Mediation is a form of dispute resolution. Instead of having a hearing before a judge or jury, people often bring their complex legal issues to the mediation table in an effort to voice their concerns and settle their issues.

Why Should I Mediate?

Mediation can often save parties TIME and MONEY because they can save on the costs of filing fees, time in court, attorney’s fees, and court costs. Parties who mediate their cases are often more satisfied with the outcome of their cases than those who go before the Judge, because during a mediation all parties have a hand in the way the case is resolved.

Mediation fees are almost always split between the parties, so in the long run both parties see an added financial bonus in addition to the other benefits. Unlike court, Mediation can be scheduled according to your personal flexibility and can last as little or as long as necessary to meet the needs of the parties.

Mediation Services

Conflict is a natural occurrence in each of our daily lives.  In families, on the job, in personal business, and elsewhere, there are countless situations where you may feel like the only way to resolve an issue is to get the courts and justice system involved.  This is far from the truth. Mediation can be used to bring parties together in an attempt to resolve issues before getting attorneys, judges, and/or juries involved.  Both parties must be willing participants, but if they come to the table with a willingness to negotiate, we usually help people arrive at a favorable outcome. Before using money and resources to hire an attorney and file a law suit, consider mediation.

Despite your best efforts you may one day find yourself in the court system.  Whether you have been sued or have taken steps to sue, the good news is that you still have the power to keep some authority in your own hands.  

Many courts require parties to participate in mediation prior to allowing them the opportunity to have a court date.  This speaks volumes to the value of the mediation process.  Instead of leaving your fate to a judge or jury of your peers, consider coming to the mediation table to attempt to settle your dispute.

Attorneys are not required to attend mediation, however, if you have retained an attorney, we welcome their involvement in the mediation process.  You have a right to choose your mediator and since Attorney Duvernay is State certified, she is qualified to mediate throughout the State of Georgia.  We can review the complaints and counterclaims prior to mediation to get a better understanding of the underling issues and arrive at a resolution.

The Mediation Process

STEP 1 Prior to Mediation, we will give you a brief questionnaire to complete. Feel free to return the questionnaire to our office prior to mediation, or if you prefer, you can bring it to your mediation session.

STEP 2 On the day of Mediation, the mediator will bring both parties together to explain the purpose of the mediation and the parties will get a chance to share their position and state what they believe will be an ideal resolution. It is important to know that the mediation session is confidential and nothing that is shared in the mediation session can be used in court. This allows parties to negotiate freely without fear that what they say will be used against them at a later date should the matter not get resolved at mediation.

STEP 3 Once the parties share their positions, the mediator begins to work the mediation process to try to assist parties with arriving at a resolution.

STEP 4 (optional) After speaking with both parties jointly for some time, often, a mediator will split the parties into a caucus session. A caucus is where the mediator meets one on one with one side of the case to better understand his or her position regarding the conflict. Generally, if a mediator caucuses with one party, she will caucus with the other side as well. Caucus sessions, like any other portion of the mediation, are confidential.

STEP 5 Parties continue to work the mediation process until one of several outcomes are met.

Possible Mediation Outcomes 

If parties are able to resolve all issues surrounding the conflict, the mediator will draft an agreement spelling out the details of the full settlement. Once a settlement is reached, parties are bound by their agreement. Occasionally, parties can agree to have a “rescission” period where they can have a few days to review the agreement before it becomes a final agreement. If the mediation occurs post-litigation, the mediation agreement usually must be made into a Final Order to close the case out with the courts.
Often, parties are able to resolve some issues through the mediation process, while there are others that they reserve for the ruling of the Court. In this case, the mediator will draft an agreement spelling out the details of the partial settlement. Once a settlement is reached, parties are bound by their agreement and the only issues left to be discussed with the Court will be those not agreed upon at mediation. This is often the case in family law situations where parties are able to agree on many of the issues like property distribution, custody, or visitation, but they disagree on other issues like child support or alimony. Partial Settlements allow parties to save a lot of time and money, by narrowing issues for the court and resolving as many issues prior to court as possible.
Sometimes parties simply do not come to a resolution at the mediation table, and that is alright. When this happens, it is called an impasse. If parties are attending mediation per the Order of the court, their requirement has been met and they can then petition the court for a hearing. If parties reach an impasse at a pre-litigation mediation, it is then that they usually decide if they want to go forward with utilizing the court system to address their conflict. Often parties find value in the mediation process even after they arrive at an impasse, because it allows them to narrow the issues that lead to their conflicts. It is not uncommon for parties to come to an agreement a few days after mediation in a situation where they were first at an impasse.
Occasionally parties are utilizing the mediation process and while they find it helpful, they need to take a break from the mediation for a while to work on some things (i.e. gather documents, attend counseling, etc.). If this is the case and both parties agree, the mediator can create a partial agreement or “checklist” of items to be completed . The mediation will be put on hold and parties will then choose a date to return to and finish the mediation session. Although parties can reset mediation in any type of case, this is most frequently done in Mediation to Stay Married.