Divorce Mediation vs. Arbitration in Georgia

Divorce Mediation vs. Arbitration in Georgia

Alternatives for Getting a Divorce in Georgia

There is no question that the traditional adversarial approach to divorce litigation drives up the cost. It is also stressful and often leaves both parties feeling like they lost. The popular trend is to use mediation or arbitration as an easier way to get an amicable divorce in Georgia.

Comparing Mediated and Arbitrated Divorce

What is the core difference between mediation and arbitration? Mediation is a collaborative effort to reach agreement, whereas arbitration utilizes a single, neutral party to make the final decisions.

The mediator lacks authority to make decisions as their role is to facilitate productive conversation between the parties. The arbitrator has full authority to make binding decisions on any topic in the divorce settlement. Mediation offers the divorcing parties more influence on the final outcome of the process. Arbitration basically means the arbitrator gathers and reviews the particulars, and tells the parties how things are going to be.

Which is Better for My Divorce?

Why would someone choose mediation over arbitration? Per the FINRA.org website, "More than 80 percent of mediations result in a settlement, and in most cases the process is significantly faster and less costly than arbitration. Mediation does not impose a solution and it is not binding until the parties reach and sign a settlement agreement." 1 If you and your spouse can put emotions aside, and have reasonable communication, mediation is probably the best option for your divorce.

When is This Not a Good Option

Generally, if you and your spouse are openly bitter or emotionally charged it’s doubtful that this will work for you. There needs to be some level of a sense of cooperation with a focus on resolving differences. Mediation and arbitration are also not recommended when there is a hisotry of abuse.

The Divorce.com website says it this way, "Divorce mediation won’t work for couples with significant disagreements. A mediator can help you meet in the middle. If your desires are in completely opposite directions, you’ll have a tough time finding a middle ground." 2

How Does Divorce Mediation Work?

Divorce Mediation begins when both spouses agree to a mediated divorce process, and hire a mediator. The real work starts with the mediator, serving as a middle-man, goes back-and-forth between spouses to find compromise and agreement. In mediation, both sides present their opinions and information to the mediator along with their desired outcomes.

The mediator will provide feedback on how a divorce judge may view your case, and then offer suggestions on compromise and agreements. The mediator understands alternative dispute resolution rules, so their recommendations are certain to be lawful and reasonable.

Many people are convinced there spouse will uncooperative and unreasonable. They are often very surprised that all of the points of contention are resolved in a single day! This is the magic of a skilled divorce mediator.

How Does Divorce Arbitration Work?

Divorce Arbitration begins when both spouses agree to arbiration, and hire an arbitrator. An arbitrator, who effectively acts like the judge, gathers and reviews facts, the inormation provided by both parties to render final decisions for key parts of the Settlement Agreement.

Arbitration can be binding, or non-binding, as agreed by the parties. A binding arbitration means that both parties are legally bound by the decision. It differs from mediation in that the arbitrator makes the decision and in mediation the parties attempt to make their own decision.

With arbitration, the parties generally split the cost of hiring an arbitrator. An arbitration is like a private court with relaxed rules. You designate the time of the hearing, and avoid a courtroom full of people bearing witness to every aspect of your divorce being discussed in public.

We Reached Agreement, Now What?

If you and your spouse have reached agreement on everything, a lawyer can complete your Settlement Agreement. The Settlement Agreement can be submitted to the family law court for review and approval. Assuming the court has no issues with the Agreement, and any other requirements have been met, your divorce can be granted without delay.

What other requirements might there be? If you have minor children, you must attend a Parenting Course. Your lawyer will confirm that everything is in good order before submitting the paperwork to the court.

What If We Can’t Reach Agreement?

If, strangely enough, things can’t be resolved with mediation or arbtration you can terminate the process. This will move your divorce into typical litigation and/or a divorce trial. Either of these will extend the time and cost to get a divorce, and add a lot of stress on both parties.

If your case is headed for trial, brace for a bumpy ride. The effort to resolve differences outside of court is done for your benefit. If your future is left up to a judge, he or she will never know the facts like you do, and decisions rendered may not be agreeable to you or your spouse. At this point, like it or not, you get what you get.

Mediation & Arbitration Benefits

  • Lower Cost. Minimizing non-productive arguments makes it easier and faster to reach agreement on major issues. When you’re law firm charges by the hour, less time means lower costs.
  • Minimize Stress. Having a neutral facilitator, mitigates the drag of interpersonal friction. The mediator can work with both spouses to address issues and buffer out emotions, bad attitudes and hostility.
  • Personal Privacy. Mediation and Arbitration discussions are conducted in private, not in a public divorce court. If you value privacy in matters of your relationship, mediation and arbitration are ideal.

If you’re interested in saving time and money, and lowering stress, in a divorce you should contact our divorce mediation experts in Cherokee County.


  • 1 Staff Writer, "Overview of Arbitration & Mediation", December 13, 2023, Available from FINRA
  • 2 Staff Writers, "When Is Divorce Mediation Not Recommended?", March 7, 2023, Available from Divorce.com
  • Photo by Edmond Dantès, available at Pexels
Jimmy Duncan
James Hobson is a digital marketing professional with 25 years of experience in web development, search engine optimization, local search and online advertising. James has over 40 years of sales and marketing experience ranging from entrepreneur to senior management for start-ups, SMB, and Fortune 100 companies. James has specific business expertise with advertising agency, law firm, service trade, manufacturing, construction and industrial sectors. He has been a sales and marketing speaker for events, and is a frequent contributing author for law and business blogs under the nom de plume Jimmy Duncan.

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