While it's true that more often than not there are hard feelings between divorcing spouses, it's also true that more often than not many of these divorcing spouses realize that allowing their hard feelings to permeate the legal proceedings could end up costing them precious time, money and energy.
What happens, however, when these mindful couples are simply unable to resolve divorce-related matters despite their best efforts? Do they have no choice but to enter into prolonged litigation that might not leave anyone satisfied with the outcome?
The good news is that there are viable alternatives to traditional divorce than can help couples in this exact scenario, including mediation.
What exactly is mediation?
In general, mediation is widely utilized divorce alternative in which the spouses work together with a neutral third party -- the mediator -- to reach mutually acceptable solutions in all divorce-related matters from property division and spousal support to child custody and child support.
It's important to understand, however, that the mediator is not vested with decision-making authority like a judge. Rather, their role is to facilitate a constructive and cooperative dialogue between the divorcing spouses, helping them to both identify issues and explore all possible resolutions.
Who decides whether mediation should be undertaken?
It's possible that the spouses might agree at the outset of the divorce to resolve matters via mediation. However, it's also possible that the spouses might be directed by the court to attempt to resolve their differences via mediation.
For example, couples looking to legally dissolve their marriage in the Family Division of the Superior Court of Fulton County may be referred to mediation at various points (i.e., 30-, 60-, or 120-day status conference) if an agreement cannot be reached.
Can I be represented by an attorney in mediation?
Yes, each spouse can have an attorney present to counsel them during the course of the mediation.
We'll continue this discussion in future posts, examining the advantages of mediation and how the process actually works.
In the meantime, if you have questions about divorce mediation or would like to learn more about the divorce process in Georgia, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional.