The Divorce Process in Atlanta
The Divorce Process in Atlanta, Georgia
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Alternative Dispute Resolution
While Alternative Dispute Resolution is often effective, there are different methods that may be more beneficial depending on the specific circumstances of your case.
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution where a neutral or impartial person, aka a mediator, facilitates settlement discussions between the parties. The mediator is a highly trained practitioner, who is typically a licensed Georgia attorney who specializes in divorce mediation, that will listen to both sides of the case and assist an amicable resolution. Mediation is a non-adversarial system that eliminates the pressures of convincing a judge that your case is better than the other, and allows both parties to focus on compromise. If successful, both sides will reach a settlement on major issues related to the divorce. Most importantly, the parties are in control of the outcome and are not relying on a Judge to decide how their life and family will live following the divorce with regards to issues related to custody, child support, alimony and equitable division of assets.
Arbitration is the opposite of mediation in many ways. Arbitration is a form of adjudication where one arbitrator or a panel of arbitrators renders a decision in the case as presented by each party or their attorneys.
The term "Settlement Conference" can mean one of two things: A judicially hosted settlement conference or an informal settlement conference.A judicially hosted settlement conference is a form of mediation where the parties elect to retain the services of a retired Judge to act as the mediator. While similar to mediation, a Judicially hosted settlement conference allows the retired Judge to provide years of judicial training and expertise to evaluate and provide feedback as to how your assigned judge would likely rule. As such, both sides will hear a Judge's perspective of the issues of the case, and hopefully enable the parties to reach an amicable resolution. Conversely, an informal settlement conference is when the parties, and their respective counsels, meet together without a neutral party in an attempt to resolve outstanding issues prior to proceeding with trial.
Contested v. Uncontested
If your marriage is over and you have a cooperative relationship with your ex-spouse, you may think it unnecessary to hire legal counsel to finalize your divorce. Georgia laws, however, are more complex than you might imagine. Even though you may be able to agree on all or most issues, you want an experienced divorce & custody lawyer to review the terms of any agreement so that you get the outcome you seek.
In particular, an uncontested divorce with minor children requires unique legal pleadings that must comply with strict Georgia Child Support Guidelines. Moreover, most counties require parties to file an executed Final Judgment Decree of Divorce, which will incorporate a Settlement Agreement, Parenting Plan, Child Support Worksheet, and Child Support Addendum, all of which must strictly comply with applicable statutes.