Alternative Dispute Resolution Program
The Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Program provides a means for civil and domestic cases to be settled, which can many times be faster and less costly than the use of traditional court proceedings such as hearings and trials. The most common form of ADR used in this program is mediation, in which a neutral third party called a mediator meets confidentially with the parties. Sometimes their attorneys help them find common grounds of understanding which may lead to an acceptable solution to their dispute.
When mediation is successful, since the parties have participated in the settlement of their case, they will usually be more satisfied with the outcome and therefore less likely to need future court services. However, if an agreement cannot be reached through mediation, the case will continue on through the normal court process.
In the Conasauga Circuit all Domestic and Civil cases are ordered to mediation by a standing order. For exceptions to this order please refer to the ADR Rules. Fees for mediation are the responsibility of the parties. View the ADR RULES.
Divorcing Parents Seminar
The Divorcing Parents Seminar is a four-hour educational program designed to assist parents by offering time-proven information on ways they may effectively help their children cope with divorce or other family discord. The parties in all domestic cases involving minor children must attend the seminar before their cases can be finalized. The seminar is offered each month in Murray and Whitfield counties at a session on a Thursday morning in Dalton, a session on a Saturday morning in Chatsworth and two two-hour evening sessions in Dalton. Pre-registration at the Superior Court clerk's office in either Murray or Whitfield county is required before the seminar can be attended. Registration by telephone or at a seminar session is not allowed.
There is a $40 per person fee charged to offset the expenses of the program. However, anyone who cannot afford to pay the fee may file a written application for fee waiver in the Court Administrator's office from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday. The office is located on the second floor of the Whitfield County Courthouse. View the 2020 Seminar Schedule
Guardian ad Litem Program
The Guardian ad Litem Program provides a standardized method through which judges may utilize the services of specially trained attorneys to represent the interests of children involved in domestic cases filed in Superior Court. These attorneys are appointed as guardians to assist the court in making decisions pertaining to disputed child-related issues such as physical and legal custody, visitation schedules, and financial support. The guardians gather information from sources such as the parties to the case (counsel, relatives, schools, law enforcement agencies, medical facilities, and social agencies), which they compile into reports for presentation to the court. The reports include the guardians findings as well as their recommendations as to possible dispositions regarding the disputed issues. Throughout this process, the guardians attempt to assist the parties in identifying areas of agreement which may allow them to mutually settle their disagreements, therefore minimizing the need for further extensive court intervention. View the Guardian ad Litem Program Rules.