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Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in Georgia Divorce Cases: Mediation, Arbitration, and Late Case Evaluation

Alternative Dispute Resolution is a general phrase for providing parties to litigation an alternative way to resolve their disputes. Generally, parties that have disagreements in a Georgia divorce case go to a court seeking a judge or jury to determine who is ‘right’. A Georgia divorce case can be expensive and lengthy for the parties involved as parties file a complaint/answer,conduct extensive discovery (typically over a six month period), are heard on various motions, and ultimately have a final hearing regarding all of the issues involved in their case. When a Georgia divorce case ‘goes the distance’ under this system it is not atypical for the entire process to take in excess of one year and cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Alternative Dispute Resolution is an attempt to enable the parties to Georgia divorce cases to craft their own “alternative” solution to a trial court rendering a decision on their matters.Generally, there are three basic forms of alternative dispute resolution that are commonly used in conjunction with, and sometimes instead of, the trial court process: mediation, arbitration, and late case evaluation.

Mediation is a process wherein a third party neutral (a “mediator”) attempts to facilitate discussions between parties in order to help them best craft a solution to their disagreements. The mediator does not decide any issues in the case. Instead, the mediator listens to both parties, typically separately, and tries to guide negotiations to a win-win solution or a solution that both parties can ultimately accept. The parties maintain absolute control over this process and are free to reject any offers from the other party at any time. Because the parties are crafting their own solutions to their disputes, often the parties to this process find it a useful mechanism to resolving their disputes.

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