An informal way for people to come together and talk through their conflict with the help of an impartial third person. In the mediation, each person has the opportunity to vocalize their issues and concerns surrounding the conflict. The mediator helps each person evaluate their needs and goals for reaching a solution. All decisions are made by the parties not the mediator.
- divorce issues
- child custody and support
- contract interpretation
- real estate concerns
- multi-party conflict
- property disputes
- employment conflicts
- construction issues
- billing discrepancies
- personal injury claim
The mediator's role is to act as an unbiased third party. Please consult the Third Judicial Administrative District, Mediator's List. The list may also be obtained by calling 706-653-4190. If parties are unable to agree upon a mediator, one will be appointed by the Office of Dispute Resolution (ODR).
Time Involved: Each conflict is different, so the length and number of sessions may vary by the complexity of issues involved.
Costs: The fee for mediation is to be divided between the parties or as agreed in the mediation. Please refer to the Third Judicial Administrative District Mediator's List for specific rates. Please be prepared to pay the mediator at the initial session.
Attendance: Only persons involved in the dispute and persons necessary to resolve the dispute need attend. No witnesses are necessary. Although the presence of an attorney is not required, parties are encouraged to consult their attorney throughout the process.
Preparation: Domestic mediations require you bring a copy of the financial affidavit filed with the court. Other items that may be helpful:
- budgets (household or business)
- tax returns
- documents relating to property, outstanding debts, mortgage, account balances, etc.
- insurance policies
Benefits of Mediation
- confidential, non-adversarial, informal process
- parties maintain control of the dispute
- each person involved is able to vocalize the issues that are important to them
- neutral mediator who listens to all sides of the issues
- faster more effective dispute resolution
- less costly than trial
- It is the plaintiff attorney's responsibility to find a mutually acceptable date for mediation.
- Failure to schedule the mediation within the ten day time limit will result in the ODR selecting the date, time, location and mediator.
- A financial penalty will be imposed on any party who fails to appear at the mediation without good cause and at least 48 hours notification of cancellation.
Mediation Order - Click here for printable form. Blank orders can also be obtained from the clerk of the court of the county in which the case is being filed.
ADR Referral Form - Click here for a printable form. Fill out the form and mail or fax to the Office of Dispute Resolution.
Fee Waiver Form - Please contact the Office of Dispute Resolution for guidelines and blank form.
Mediator's Report - Click here for a printable form. This form must be completed after each mediation session and either faxed or mailed to the Office of Dispute Resolution.
Mediation Guidelines for Superior and State Court - Click her for a printable form. This form must be completed at the beginning of each mediation session and faxed or mailed to the Office of Dispute Resolution. Everyone present at the session is required to sign this form, including an observer if one is present.
The mediator will put the essential terms of the agreement in writing. Please review this with your attorney and have them prepare the proper court documents so the case can be concluded. If an agreement is not reached, your case will continue through the normal judicial process.
Cases can be referred by the attorneys, parties, or judges. These cases should not include allegations of domestic violence. All the judges will be supplied with blank mediation order forms. The judge should sign the order at the moment he or she orders a case to mediation (on the bench or otherwise requested), provide the original to the clerk, a copy to both parties or their representative, and a copy to the Office of Dispute Resolution (ODR). If more than two parties are involved, copies of the signed order can be made.
The plaintiff or plaintiff's attorney is responsible for filling out the Mediation Referral form in its entirety. A case cannot proceed properly through the Office of Dispute Resolution without all of the information requested on this form.
*SPECIAL NOTE: If there are allegations of abuse whether spousal, child or substance in your particular case and it has been referred to mediation, please contact the Office of Dispute Resolution at 706-478-2578 immediately. Your case may not be appropriate for mediation. Please see the following Guidelines for Mediation in Cases involving Issues of Domestic Violence approved by the Georgia Commission on Dispute Resolution.
Guidelines for Mediation in Cases Involving Issues of Domestic Violence
Every case involving allegations of spousal abuse in a domestic case is handled specially by ODR. For a description of the special handling procedures, please click here. www.ganet.org/gadr/domviol.html
If allegations of domestic violence arise in the context of a mediation, any mediator who has had no special training in handling cases involving domestic violence should in most instances conclude the mediation and send the case back to the court. In concluding the mediation, the mediator should take precautions to guard the safety of the other party and of the mediator.
Movement of the Case
Once the ODR receives the order and the referral form, the case is logged into the office and will be tracked for compliance with these procedures.
Selection of the Mediator
The parties have 10 days from the date the plaintiff or plaintiff's attorney receives the order signed by the judge to review the official Office of Dispute Resolution Mediator List and choose a mediator. If a mediator is not agreed upon within then (10) days or a party decides not to choose, the program director of the ODR will assign a mediator. The parties share equally the chosen provider's fees unless otherwise agreed.
Scheduling the Case
Once a mediator is agreed upon or is assigned to the case by the program director, the parties and their attorneys have ten (10) days to schedule the mediation. The plaintiff and/or the plaintiff's attorney is responsible for coordinating the scheduling of the session regardless of how the mediator is selected. However, anyone may coordinate the scheduling of the session by agreement. The chosen or assigned mediator should send a confirmation letter of the scheduled session to all the parties and/or attorneys with a copy to the Office of Dispute Resolution. Once a case has been scheduled and confirmed, the ODR needs to be made aware of any changes immediately. These changes include but are not limited to: cancellation of a scheduled session, rescheduling of a session, second and all subsequent sessions, change in chosen mediator, dismissal of case and settlement of case prior to mediation.
If a legal conflict shall arise, it is the responsibility of the attorney with the legal conflict to reschedule the session with everyone and the mediator. The Office of Dispute Resolution shall be notified in writing of the new date, time and location of the scheduled session.
The use of the Office of Dispute Resolution for any scheduled mediation session must be coordinated with the Office of Dispute Resolution prior to confirming session with parties and/or attorneys.
Completion of Mediation
A Mediator's Report will be sent to the Office of Dispute Resolution by the mediator. It is the plaintiff's or plaintiff's attorney responsibility to report the outcome of the mediation to the court. If a settlement was reached during the session, the parties have ten days to go over the agreement with their respective attorneys for approval. If the settlement is acceptable, either attorney by agreement may file the settlement with the court. If an agreement is not reached during the session or if the court has not been notified of the outcome of the case in mediation, the case will proceed on the next regular trial calendar.