In September, the Georgia Commission on Dispute Resolution (“GCDR”) issued a press release announcing their adoption of new Rules for Mediating Cases with Domestic Violence. The new rules come after the GCDR updated their Guidelines for Mediation in Cases Involving Issues of Domestic Violence (which were first adopted in 1994 and amended in 2003 and 2005) to bring the guidelines up-to-date with domestic violence research and ensure that best practices are being used. To assist in their effort to update their guidelines, the GCDR collaborated with the Georgia Commission on Family Violence (“GCFV”) to create a domestic violence working group to spearhead the change to the GCDR guidelines.
Between 2016 and 2018, the working group brought together a wide variety of experts with experience and knowledge in the areas of court ADR, domestic violence, family violence, and mediation to develop the new GCDR rules. During their collaboration, the working group developed four guiding principles for the rules including safety, self-determination, best practices and practical implementation. The first of these two principles require that cases be screened to assess whether mediation can be done safely and free from coercion. The final two principles focus on the design of the rules and require that the rules align with best practices in the field and can be reasonably implemented by local programs.
The GCDR’s new rules will be effective January 1, 2021. Until then, the GCDR and the GCFV will continue to collaborate with each other and plan to support a joint committee to oversee the implementation of the rules, training, review, and revision of the rules. Once the rules are finalized, they will be uploaded to the GCDR website. Additionally, the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution will be developing rules to assist courts in designing appropriate intake procedures and will work with the GCDR to assist courts in developing appropriate screening training for court personnel.