According to the DeKalb County Superior Court, “Mediation is the process by which a neutral third party attempts to resolve a dispute through a face-to-face meeting with the disputing parties. The…mediator assists the parties in identifying their interests (as opposed to their rights), prioritizing their concerns, and exploring a broad range of options that could resolve their dispute.” In other words, mediation is a way of resolving conflicts outside of court with the help of a mediator.
Working with a mediator and going through the mediation process is typically a quicker, cheaper, and less stressful method of working through issues, so it’s usually in the best interest of everyone involved to consider going the mediation route. In fact, the GA court strongly encourages mediation and, in some cases, will actually appoint a mediator to assist the parties in reaching an agreement outside of a court trial.
How does mediation work?
Typically, mediators are paid per hour and can be hired for multiple sessions until an agreement is reached.
The mediator sits down with the parties directly involved in the conflict and brokers the conversation, helping maintain rationality and civility in order to assist the people involved to consider all their options and reach an acceptable compromise. It’s less about what the parties have the “right” to demand from or try to leverage out of the other, and more about finding a resolution that could actually be livable in the day to day life of everyone involved. Any written agreement reached during the mediation process and signed by all parties is considered legally binding and can be used in court, should either party fail to uphold the conditions agreed on.
The mediator does not try to impose a solution. Rather, the role of the mediator is to provide a framework and a fair hearing for a full and balanced conversation between disputing parties, to assist them in knowing their options, and to mitigate the emotional intensity of interactions. Mediation requires that both parties be willing to act in “good faith,” i.e., that, all things being equal, they are willing to listen to reason and to commit to an effective course of action that would address the primary difficulties of the situation.
Parties in the mediation process can choose to stop mediation at any point and pursue a trial instead.