Meriwether & Tharp, LLC
Meriwether & Tharp, LLC 1545 Peachtree Street NE, Suite 300 Varied
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4 Reasons to Skip (or at least postpone) Mediation

Mediation is often lauded as one of the best methods parties may utilize to reach a mutually agreeable settlement in their divorce case. This is so, because mediation allows both parties to have an active role in crafting their divorce settlement, while also sparing the parties from having to endure the often lengthy and costly process of a Georgia divorce trial. While it is true that mediation is the preferable method to resolve a divorce matter in the majority of cases, occasionally there are certain cases where mediation is not appropriate, and certain circumstances under which mediation will likely not be effective. Listed below are 4 reasons why mediation should be avoided, or at least postponed, in a Georgia divorce case.

  • No discovery has been conducted. During a Georgia divorce case, discovery is the process during which both parties gather critical case relevant information and evidence from each other. Discovery is necessary, especially in divorce cases, because it allows each party to come to the negotiating table will all the facts necessary to reach a fair and complete settlement of all the issues of the divorce. If discovery has yet to be completed in a case, proceeding to mediation may potentially be harmful, because it may result in parties reaching an agreement based on incomplete or unreliable facts.
  • One or both parties have unrealistic expectations. During the divorce process, especially early on, it is not uncommon of at least one of the soon to be ex-spouses to have unrealistic expectations regarding the outcome of the divorce process. If one spouse is seeking an unrealistic outcome, such as a 90/10 split of the martial property, or a spouse simply refuses to participate in the divorce process in the hopes that the other spouse will simply abandon his or her desire obtain a divorce, proceeding to mediation will only result in frustration. It takes two to negotiate, and if one spouse is simply not engaged in the process or insists on seeking an unworkable outcome, mediation will be likely not result in a settlement between the parties.
  • Scheduling conflicts and lack of availability. Mediation is often a lengthy process. Generally, we advise our client to allocate at least 4 hours for a mediation session. In some cases, mediation sessions take less time, but it is not uncommon for mediation sessions to stretch for 7 hours or more. Thus, both parties must be committed and available throughout the session to reap the maximum benefit. If both parties and their respective counsel are not available or willing to make the time commitment necessary, mediation should be postponed until such a time all parties are available.
  • High conflict divorce or lack of respect between the parties. When preparing a client for meditation, it is not uncommon for our attorneys to hear the question: "Are we going to be in the same room?" Generally in mediation, both parties met in a common room initially to familiarize the mediator with the facts of the case and set a road map of sorts for the mediation. Next, depending on the circumstances of the case, the parties may either remain the same room throughout the duration of the mediation session, or the parties may adjourn to separate rooms. In high conflict divorces, it is often suggested that the parties be placed in separate rooms for all phases of the mediation session. The mediator will simply volley between the parties until a settlement is agreed upon. However, in matters where the level of conflict between the parties is such that mediation would be futile, due to the low probability that the parties will agree on any issue of the divorce or due to one party's fear of the other party, mediation should be postponed until those issues are resolved or until the mediation session can be scheduled in a location that provides an assurance of security, such as a local courthouse.

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Alternatives to Trial
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