Alternative Dispute Resolution FAQ's

What is mediation?
Mediation is an informal process whereby a neutral third party (mediator) assists people in resolving their disputes. It is for people who want to settle their dispute in an efficient, economical and consensual manner.

Why should my case be mediated?
1. To save time and money
2. To avoid the risk of trial
3. To remain confidential
4. To allow control of decisions
5. To preserve relationships
6. To provide flexibility in solutions

What is the cost?
The Mediation Center is under contract with Chatham County to provide free mediation services for Magistrate, State and Probate court cases, and discounted mediation services for Superior Court cases (including domestic cases). The Mediation Center currently charges $250 per party for mediation of Superior Court cases (including domestic cases), regardless of the length of the mediation. Parties who believe that they qualify for a fee waiver or reduction should contact The Mediation Center. Court-approved private mediators charge market rates. For more information regarding court-approved private mediators, including their bios and rates, click here.

What types of cases are good candidates for mediation?
Domestic Relation cases to include: Divorce, Modification of Divorce; Child Custody; Child Support; Separate Maintenance; and Legitimation. General Civil cases to include: Landlord/Tenant disputes; Indebtedness; Contract Disputes; Property Damage; Personal Injury; Employment Disputes; Neighborhood Disputes and many others.

How long does mediation take?
Mediation's usually can be completed within 2-4 hours. If the issues are many, and/or the subject matter very complex, mediation may last several sessions.

Is it necessary to have an attorney in mediation?
While attorneys are always welcome and encouraged to attend mediation, their presence is not required.

Who will attend the mediation?
All parties and their duly authorized representative with full settlement authority are required to attend. Witnesses do not attend.

Who will be my mediator?
Although The Mediation Center is the preferred provider, the parties may use a private mediator of their choosing. To exercise this option the parties must notify the Alternative Dispute Office within ten days of the court order and provide the name of the private mediator. Mediators must be registered with the State.

What if I don't like the decision of the mediator?
The mediator does not make decisions or rulings. The mediator assists the parties in finding their solution.

What will happen if we do not reach an agreement?
The case will proceed normally through the court process. Judges favor mediation but will not hold a failed mediation against either party. Judges are not informed of the reasons for a failed mediation.

If we don't reach an agreement have we wasted our time and money?
No. Studies have shown that even though an agreement was not reached, many parties eventually settle the case based at least partly upon the mediation process.

How can I get my case into mediation?
For those persons represented by an attorney, notify your attorney of your desire. Your attorney will make the arrangements. For those persons not represented by an attorney, indicate your desire for mediation in your pleadings, or notify the Chatham County ADR Director in writing of your desire.

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