A common misconception about the divorce process is that it is all or nothing. Either you and your soon-to-be ex agree on every point and amiably submit your agreement, or you are caught up in a no-holds-barred courtroom battle. In Georgia, as in many other states, a third option is gaining popularity. Divorce mediation can be an effective, non-confrontational way to work out points of contention and arrive at an optimal resolution.
In the mediation process, a trained and knowledgeable mediator acts as a third party who can facilitate communication between the two divorcing spouses. This way, the spouses are not engaging directly, lessening the chances of emotional reactions taking over the process. The mediator can also suggest potential compromises from a neutral standpoint.
Another benefit of mediation is the increased flexibility as opposed to litigation, which runs on a strict timetable. Because mediation is optional and less formal, the parties may feel less stress and pressure, leading to a greater willingness to compromise and come to an agreement. Although mediation is not the cheapest option (that would be just drafting an agreement on your own), it is typically less costly than litigation.
When mediation is not indicated
On the other hands, there are situations where mediation is not the best solution. This includes cases where domestic violence is involved, a spouse is hiding assets or there are children whose welfare is in question. These situations need fast and authoritative solutions that are best implemented by a court. It is important to understand that the mediator has no legal powers to compel any parties to do something or to stop them from doing something. The same applies to cases where circumstances demand a quick resolution of a financial or custody issue. However, the law does not prevent parties in such situations from pursuing mediation if they so choose.
If you have no proof but suspect that your spouse is lying about something, mediation may also not be your best option. Unlike a judge, a mediator cannot force anyone to produce documents or other evidence.
Generally, mediation can be a good solution for divorcing spouses who may disagree on some points or have trouble communicating productively, but are generally willing to work with one another in good faith. The success of divorce mediation depends greatly on the voluntary effort invested into making it work. In such cases, mediation can be an excellent, cost-effective tool for coming up with a resolution that works for both parties.
If you are about to begin the divorce process, a consultation with a knowledgeable attorney can help you figure out the best path to take. Whichever option you decide on, a qualified divorce lawyer can safeguard your interests.