- Do I need a court order to get ADR services?
Yes. Cases are referred to mediation by court order.
- How do I obtain an order and request that my case be referred to mediation?
Any party/attorney may request their case be referred to mediation at any time after the case is filed and the defendant(s) is served. Requests are made by contacting the AJC ADR Program at [email protected].
- May I request an exemption from mediation?
Once your case is referred to mediation, any party to a dispute may petition the court and request it be removed from the mediation requirement if any of the following apply:
- The issue to be considered has been previously submitted to an approved ADR process.
- Other good cause is shown before the judge to whom the case is assigned.
- The issues have been referred by consent order of the court to a private provider of ADR services, provided they are registered with G.O.D.R. https://gcr.onegovcloud.com/public/directory/#!/
- Once my case is ordered to mediation, what do I do first?
If your case is a Domestic Relations case (divorce, separate maintenance, legitimation, modification of custody (including visitation), child support, alimony, etc.), you are required to complete the domestic violence screening survey prior to selecting a mediator and scheduling a mediation session. Parties may complete/submit this form individually online at https://godr.org/adr-screening/. The ADR Office will notify parties once screening is complete, at which time you may proceed with selecting a mediator and scheduling mediation.
- I am a victim of domestic violence. Do I have to attend mediation?
The ADR office is required to screen each case for domestic violence. Screening conducted by the ADR director and program staff is strictly confidential. If the ADR Office determines that allegations of domestic violence exist, the decision of whether to mediate or not is left up to the alleged victim. The ADR Office will determine whether mediation can be done safely and free from coercion, Additionally, the ADR Office shall take reasonable steps to make the mediation session safe, such as requiring that mediation be held at the courthouse or conducted virtually. Divorce cases wherein family violence petitions have been simultaneously filed may be mediated with the consent of the alleging party. For domestic violence support, please visit: https://godr.org/registered-neutral/additional-resources/domestic-violence-support/ or call the Statewide Domestic Hotline number at 1-800-334-2836.
- How do I select a mediator?
The parties shall select and agree on a mediator from the Augusta Judicial Circuit ADR Program roster at www.augustaga.gov/ADR/Roster. If parties have no contact with each other, notify the ADR Office at [email protected] so that our staff may assist you in the selection process. Within ten (10) calendar days after the case is referred to mediation, parties are required to notify the ADR Office in writing of the name of the mediator selected and agreed to by all parties. Exception: In Magistrate Court cases, the mediator is selected by the program and compensated by the program.
- How much does mediation cost?
The mediators’ hourly rates are listed on the AJC ADR Program roster at www.augustaga.gov/ADR/Roster. The cost of mediation is shared equally between the parties and parties are required to pay the mediator at the conclusion of the session. Exception: In Magistrate Court cases, the mediator’s fee is paid by the program and set by the program.
- What if I cannot afford mediation?
Parties determined indigent, whose income does not exceed over 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for the State of Georgia in the applicable calendar year, and whose mediator is assigned by the ADR Office may apply for a fee waiver.
Rules for Applying:
- Parties must complete the required application at www.augustaga.gov/ADR/FWA. The application must be received in the ADR Office within at least ten days prior to the scheduled mediation date.
- Domestic Relations cases: A fee waiver application will not be considered unless the applicant has completed the domestic violence screening as required by Rule 4(b) of the GA Supreme Court ADR Rules and filed a current financial affidavit.
- The ADR Office will assign the mediator in cases with approved fee waivers, unless otherwise determined by the ADR Office.
- Each party seeking a fee waiver must apply individually. Mediation fee waivers and fee reductions are approved on an individual basis. If only one party requested and was granted a fee waiver, the other party is required to pay their portion of the mediator’s hourly rate.
- Confidentiality: All efforts shall be taken by the mediator and others to keep confidential the fact that one or more parties have applied and been granted a fee waiver.
- Is attendance required at mediation?
Yes. The attendance of ALL parties is required unless the court determines otherwise. A party’s failure to appear at a court-ordered mediation may result in sanctions imposed by the court. The requirement that a party appear shall be satisfied if the following persons are present:
- The party, the party’s representative, or both. If a party’s representative appears on behalf of the party, they MUST have full authority to settle without further consultation, have a full understanding of the dispute, and full knowledge of the facts.
- A representative of the insurance carrier for any insured party, who has full authority to settle without further consultation.
Although the presence of your attorney is not required, an attorney shall not be excluded by the court or the mediator from attending a mediation session. If a party’s attorney is not present, parties are encouraged to consult with their attorney throughout the session, if needed.
Virtual attendance is available upon written request to the ADR Office by one or more parties.
In Domestic Relations cases, parties are required to complete and file a current Financial Affidavit prior to attending mediation. Failure to do so will constitute a failure to appear and may result in sanctions imposed by the Court.
Children are not permitted at the mediation session under any circumstance.
- How long does mediation last?
The average mediation lasts 2-3 hours; however, the length of time may vary dependent upon the complexity of the issues involved, the cooperation of the parties, and their willingness to negotiate.
- What are the benefits of mediation?
Mediation provides a safe, open, and confidential environment. It can be completed in less time than litigation and can save parties costly litigation expenses. It promotes communication and cooperation amongst parties and allows you to be the decision makers in your own case versus having outcomes determined by others.
- How do I prepare for mediation?
Participants in mediation should gather any information that they foresee being relevant to the issues in their case. Bring relevant and organized financial documents. For a divorce case, bring a list of your assets, balances of your bank accounts, retirement funds, tax returns, income information, financial affidavits, a list of property values, etc. For your debts, include the balance for each debt and the monthly payments for each. Bring proof of all accounts and debts and consider making an organized spreadsheet. Come prepared to negotiate not argue. Try to maintain control of your emotions.