In Georgia, every case has to be mediated before trial. That's a good thing.
Mediators tend to be smart, knowledgeable and very skilled at helping parties reach out of court settlements. Mediation is expensive but trial is far more expensive and the outcome is uncertain.
Mediations are oftentimes successful and result in settlement agreements. But settlement agreements drafted during mediation have to be properly drafted to make sure they will be enforceable. Otherwise, the agreement may be attacked as vague or incomplete and may result in even more litigation.
When you go to mediation, don't take any shortcuts. Carefully discuss every issue of concern to you and make certain that the issues are addressed the final, written settlement agreement. In other words, make sure it is in writing!
Don't leave anything out or anything unsaid. Be sure to cover everything in writing. And be sure your agreement is complete and precise as to all essential terms. Most importantly, make sure you include savings clause language in your settlement agreement acknowledging that the agreement is a final and binding agreement as to all issues even if the parties has left some minor terms to fill in after the mediation.
Oftentimes, a party will feel good about a settlement until they get home and start sharing the details with friends and family. That's when doubts arise and “buyer's remorse” sets in.
If you haven't covered everything in your mediation agreement, you risk having the agreement thrown out and having to go back to square one. Be clear about what you want and want you are willing to agree to.
Understand that a well-written mediation agreement is binding on all parties and will end your case. And don't try to cut corners or rush to end mediation. If you reach agreement at mediation, you want to walk out the door with a binding and enforceable settlement agreement.