If you and your spouse are a high-asset Georgia couple well known in your community, the last thing either of you wants when you divorce is to have your lives spread across social media, TV and the press. A mediated divorce spares you all this. In addition, mediation allows the two of you to maintain control of your respective lives by giving you the opportunity to resolve your own issues rather than leaving life-changing decisions up to a judge.
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution that has swept across the nation in the past few years, and not just in the divorce arena. Not only is mediation a nonjudicial proceeding, it also is a private and confidential one. In addition, it represents a far more amicable way to end your marriage as compared to a traditional litigated divorce.
Goals and procedures
Mediation’s goal is to allow you and your spouse to “hash out” your differences in a private, neutral and nonthreatening atmosphere and resolve them through cooperation and negotiation. Your mediator represents neither of you and cannot force either of you to do anything you do not want to do. Instead, (s)he acts as your guide and facilitator, offering suggestions as needed while you and your spouse work through your differences. (S)he likewise levels the playing field by making sure that both of you have ample opportunity to air your concerns and fears, but that neither of you intimidates or overwhelms the other.
You and your spouse can discuss, negotiate and resolve whatever issues you have in your particular situation, including the following:
- Child custody, support and visitation
- Spousal support, if any, and the amount thereof
- Fair and equitable division of your marital property
- Family business and other financial issues
What happens in mediation stays in mediation
Just because you and your spouse iron out your own differences does not mean that you must go it alone. Either or both of you can have an attorney present during your negotiations. You likewise can bring in other professionals such as forensic accountants, business evaluators, social workers, etc. if and when the need arises.
Mediation is completely private. Anything you or anyone else says during mediation is and remains confidential, as do any documents either of you or anyone else produces. Even if you or your spouse later decides to end the mediation process and proceed with a traditional litigated divorce, none of the mediation information can be used against either of you in court. Neither you, your spouse, your mediator, your respective attorneys nor anyone else involved in your mediation can testify to or in any way divulge anything that happened during mediation.
Naturally a judge must grant your divorce. Therefore, you must file all proper papers with the court, including the mediated settlement agreements you and your spouse arrived at. The judge must approve these, but judges almost always approve mediated settlements without either you or your spouse having to set foot inside the courtroom. All in all, mediation is the most civilized, harmonious and private way you can obtain a divorce.