Mediation is the process by which a neutral third party attempts to resolve a dispute through a face-to-face meeting with the disputing parties. The neutral, or mediator, assists the parties in identifying their interests (as opposed to their rights), prioritizing their concerns, and exploring a broad range of options that could resolve their dispute.

Mediation is especially useful when emotional issues are involved and some form of continuing relationship will exist between the parties. Mediation allows the parties to maintain control of the problem-solving process in a confidential environment. The mediator has no authority to compel an agreement or impose a settlement. The mediator is not the decision-maker. The parties make their own decisions.

Benefits of Mediation

  • Mediation can lower the intensity or level of conflict, enabling parties to better communicate and explore options that would resolve their dispute.
  • Mediation empowers parties to reach their own decisions versus having outcomes determined by others.
  • Mediation is less time-consuming, less expensive, and allows for greater privacy than going to court.
  • Mediation can set the stage for further cooperative problem-solving if other issues emerge in an on-going relationship.
  • Participating in mediation does not interfere with the parties’ right to trial. Parties may stop a mediation at any time when they feel progress is no longer being made and request that the case be placed on a trial calendar.


Mediators who provide services at the DeKalb Courts Dispute Resolution Center must meet both State and DeKalb County standards that include required educational backgrounds, professional experience, and mediation training specific to working with families if a family dispute is involved.

Mediators maintain their neutrality and use their training and skills in a process that allows parties to fully explore their concerns, identify areas that must reach resolution, and creatively explore a wide array of possible solutions to the conflicts. Despite their professional backgrounds, mediators cannot provide counseling, legal advice, or legal representation.

The mediator may also suspend or terminate the mediation if he/she believes that:
• the process is not working in the best interest of any child(ren) involved
• the parties are unable or unwilling to meaningfully and in “good faith” participate in the process
• a reasonable agreement is unlikely