FAQs About Registration

Q: Do I have to be licensed to work as a neutral in Georgia?

A: There is no “licensing” or “certification” of neutrals in Georgia. Instead, neutrals who desire to handle court-referred or court-ordered cases must be “registered” with the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution. Neutrals who practice exclusively in the private setting are not required to register, although many who meet the requirements do register in order to claim the Supreme Court credential.  The office maintains a public registry of neutrals who have met the Supreme Court's requirements to serve in court-connected ADR programs.

To become a Georgia-registered neutral, you must take an approved training and complete any other requirements for the category in which you wish to register.  (See below for the registration requirements in each category.) Then you must apply for registration to our office within 18 months of completing the training.  Your application will be reviewed to make sure you meet the Georgia Supreme Court requirements, a criminal background check will be conducted, the registration fee payment will be processed, and if all goes well, you will be registered.

Registration is available online through our website.  An application checklist is posted there, as well.  For detailed registration requirements of neutrals, see Appendix B to the Georgia Supreme Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules.

Q: Why should I register as a neutral?

A: You must be registered with our office if you expect to handle court-referred or court-ordered cases. If you do not expect or intend to handle court-referred or court-ordered cases, you may still wish to register for these reasons:Credential: Registration is the only government-issued credential for ADR professionals in Georgia, and it is one of only a handful nationally that are issued by a state Supreme Court. As such, Georgia registration is accepted and respected by ADR professionals and organizations in most other states. Your registration status is easily confirmed by the public through our website.

Credibility: Registration demonstrates to your clients and colleagues that you have invested in considerable professional training for your ADR practice, that you measure your qualifications according to explicit standards, and that you have made a commitment to pursue continuing education in the field. Registration is an indicator of your professionalis

Rules: Registration allows you to formally adopt the Georgia Supreme Court ADR Rules as the procedural and ethical framework for your ADR practice.

Protection: In court-ordered or court-referred mediations, conducted by a properly registered mediator, the Supreme Court ADR Rules grant the parties blanket confidentiality protection to their mediation-generated statements, documents, and evidence, and the mediator’s notes and records. The rules also prohibit a mediator from being subpoenaed or otherwise required to testify in court about the mediation.

Registration also offers properly registered mediators conducting court-ordered or court-referred mediations broad immunity from liability for civil damages “for any statement, action, omission or decision made in the course of any ADR process unless that statement, action, omission or decision is 1) grossly negligent and made with malice or 2) is in willful disregard of the safety or property of any party to the ADR process.”On March 16, 2010, we announced a new professional liability insurance program that is available at group rates to Georgia-registered neutrals only.

Q: How do I register as a General Civil Mediator?

A: Step 1: Complete an approved 28-hour General Civil Mediation Training. Choose one of the approved trainers listed on our website. Don’t forget, all trainings expire within 18 months. If you do not apply for registration within 18 months of your completing your training, you will be required to take the training over. If you were trained outside of Georgia, see below or the FAQs on Reciprocity/Interstate Registration.

Step 2: After you complete your training, observe or co-mediate five court-connected civil mediations in Georgia under a registered mediator. These observations/co-mediations can be of civil cases in superior, state, magistrate, landlord/tenant, or probate court. They must be civil cases (no divorce, custody, juvenile, deprivation, etc). Contact the director of the ADR program in your area or for which you would like to work and ask permission to observe. Make sure to document the observations on an form that includes the court name, case name, mediation date, mediation outcome, your name, and the registered mediator’s name and signature. You also have the option to take an approved 12-hour practicum course as a substitute for the five required observations/co-mediations. Don’t forget, all trainings expire within 18 months. If you do not apply for registration within 18 months of your completing your training (not your practicum), you will be required to take the training over.

Step 3: Complete the online registration application, and send in with your fee and copies of your training certificates and observation forms. If you are not already registered in another category, the base registration fee $125. The is no additional fee to add General Civil Mediation to an existing registration.  Registration is valid for up to one year.

See our list of state-approved trainers for courses leading to registration. Registration is available online through our website.  An application checklist is posted there, as well.  For detailed registration requirements of neutrals, see Appendix B to the Georgia Supreme Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules

Q: How do I register as a Domestic Relations Mediator?

ANote: You must first complete all of the registration requirements for General Civil Mediation before you take an approved Domestic Relations Mediation training; you may apply for registration in General Civil Mediation and Domestic Relations Mediation at the same time.

Step 1: Complete an approved 42-hour Domestic Relations Mediation Training. Choose one of the approved trainers listed on our website. Don’t forget, all trainings expire within 18 months. If you do not apply for registration within 18 months of your completing your training, you will be required to take the training over. If you were trained outside of Georgia, see below or the FAQs on Reciprocity/Interstate Registration.

Step 2: After you complete your training, observe one court-connected domestic mediations and co-mediate two court-connected domestic relations mediation in Georgia under a registered domestic relations mediator. These observations/co-mediations must be domestic relations cases in superior court. Contact the director of the ADR program in your area or for which you would like to work and ask permission to observe. Make sure to document the observations on an form that includes the court name, case name, mediation date, mediation outcome, your name, and the registered mediator’s name and signature. You also have the option to take an approved 12-hour practicum course as a substitute for the two required observations and one co-mediations. Don’t forget, all trainings expire within 18 months. If you do not apply for registration within 18 months of your completing your training (not your practicum), you will be required to take the training over.

Step 3: Send our office copies of your training certificate, and your observation/co-mediation forms or practicum certificate, and a letter asking to add Domestic Relations Mediation to your registration; no separate application is required.  If you are not already registered in another category, the base registration fee $125. There is an additional $25 fee to register in Domestic Relations Mediation or to add Domestic Relations Mediation to an existing registration. Registration is valid for up to one year.

If you are submitting your General Civil Mediation application at the same time, you can fill out just one application online or download it, then send us the supporting documents for both registration categories.

See our list of state-approved trainers for courses leading to registration. Registration is available online through our website.  An application checklist is posted there, as well.  For detailed registration requirements of neutrals, see Appendix B to the Georgia Supreme Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules.

Q: How do I register as a Specialized Domestic Violence Mediator?

A: Note: Mediating cases in which there has been a history or allegations of abuse or violence requires specialized training, substantial experience in domestic relations mediation, and expert mediation skills. Therefore, you must already be registered as a Domestic Relations Mediator before you enroll in an approved Specialized Domestic Violence Mediation training. Also, Domestic Violence Mediation training cannot be waived in from outside Georgia.

Step 1: Complete an approved 14-hour Specialized Domestic Violence Mediation Training. Choose one of the approved trainers listed on our website. Don’t forget, all trainings expire within 18 months. If you do not apply for registration within 18 months of your completing your training, you will be required to take the training over. If you were trained outside of Georgia, see this information.  Domestic Violence Mediation training cannot be waived in from outside Georgia.

Step 2: Get a letter of recommendation from the director of a Georgia superior court ADR program who is familiar with your work as a domestic relations mediator. 

Step 3: Send our office a letter asking to add Specialized Domestic Violence to your registration, along with copies of your training certificate and your letter of recommendation.  There no additional fee to add Specialized Domestic Violence to an existing registration. Registration is valid for up to one year.

See our list of state-approved trainers for courses leading to registration. Registration is available online through our website.  An application checklist is posted there, as well.  For detailed registration requirements of neutrals, see Appendix B to the Georgia Supreme Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules.

Q: How do I register as a Delinquency Mediator?

ANote: You must be registered in General Civil Mediation before you take an approved Delinquency Mediation training.  Also, Delinquency Mediation training cannot be waived in from outside Georgia.

Step 1: Complete an approved 16-hour Delinquency Mediation Training. Choose one of the approved trainers listed on our website. Don’t forget, all trainings expire within 18 months. If you do not apply for registration within 18 months of your completing your training, you will be required to take the training over.

Step 2: Send our office a letter asking to add Delinquency Mediation to your registration, along with a copy of your training certificate.  There no additional fee to add Delinquency Mediation to an existing registration. Registration is valid for up to one year.

See our list of state-approved trainers for courses leading to registration. Registration is available online through our website.  An application checklist is posted there, as well.  For detailed registration requirements of neutrals, see Appendix B to the Georgia Supreme Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules.

Q: How do I register as a Dependency Mediator?

ANote: You must be registered in General Civil Mediation and complete all of the requirements for Delinquency Mediation before you take an approved Dependency Mediation training.  Also, Dependency Mediation training cannot be waived in from outside Georgia

Step 1: Complete an approved 28-hour Dependency Mediation Training.  (If you are registered in Domestic Relations Mediation, complete an approved 21-hour Dependency Mediation Training.)  Choose one of the approved trainers listed on our website. Don’t forget, all trainings expire within 18 months. If you do not apply for registration within 18 months of your completing your training, you will be required to take the training over

Step 2: Send our office a letter asking to add Dependency Mediation to your registration, along with a copy of your training certificate.  There no additional fee to add Dependency Mediation to an existing registration. Registration is valid for up to one year.

See our list of state-approved trainers for courses leading to registration. Registration is available online through our website.  An application checklistis posted there, as well.  For detailed registration requirements of neutrals, see Appendix B to the Georgia Supreme Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules.

Q: How do I register as an Arbitrator?

A: Step 1: Take an approved Arbitration training or a training of at least 6 hours that qualifies for continuing legal education (CLE) credits. Don’t forget, all trainings expire within 18 months. If you do not apply for registration within 18 months of your completing your training, you will be required to take the training over.

Step 2: Send our office a copy of your training certificate and a) a completed registration application and fee, or b) if you are already registered in another category, a letter asking to add Arbitration to your registration. If you are not already registered in another category, the base registration fee $125. There no additional fee to add Arbitration to an existing registration.  Registration is valid for up to one year

See our list of state-approved trainers for courses leading to registration. Registration is available online through our website.  An application checklist is posted there, as well.  For detailed registration requirements of neutrals, see Appendix B to the Georgia Supreme Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules.

Q: How do I register as a Case Evaluator/Early Neutral Evaluator?

A: Step 1: You must be a lawyer with extensive subject matter expertise in your area of practice. Don’t forget, all trainings expire within 18 months. If you do not apply for registration within 18 months of your completing your training, you will be required to take the training over.

Step 2: Take an approved 6-hour training. We recommend, but do not require, that case evaluators/early neutral evaluators also take a 28-hour General Civil Mediation training and register in General Civil Mediation.

Step 3: Send our office a copy of your training certificate and a) a completed registration application and fee, or b) if you are already registered in another category, a letter asking to add Case Evaluation/Early Neutral Evaluation to your registration. If you are not already registered in another category, the base registration fee $125. There no additional fee to add Early Neutral Evaluation to an existing registration. Registration is valid for up to one year.

See our list of state-approved trainers for courses leading to registration. Registration is available online through our website.  An application checklist is posted there, as well.  For detailed registration requirements of neutrals, see Appendix B to the Georgia Supreme Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules.

Q: Can I register as a neutral by taking online or video training courses?

A: No. Training that is submitted for registration must always be taken live. Live instruction, with its opportunities for interaction and feedback, is critical to effective neutral training. Online and video courses are only acceptable for continuing education.

See our list of state-approved trainers for courses leading to registration. Registration is available online through our website.  An application checklist is posted there, as well.  For detailed registration requirements of neutrals, see Appendix B to the Georgia Supreme Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules.

Q: How can I fulfill my observation/co-mediation requirements?

A: Remember: you must do your observations/co-mediations after you take the appropriate training, not during the training, not before the training. Some local court programs will allow you to observe a scheduled mediation in order for you to obtain your needed observations.  They may also allow you to co-mediate a case with one of their neutrals.  You must observe or co-mediate with a mediator who is registered in the category in which you wish to register, and the nature of the case must be appropriate for the category in which you wish to register.  For example, to register in Domestic Relations Mediation, you must observe and co-mediate with registered domestic relations mediators, and the cases you observe and co-mediate must be domestic relations cases.

Because live court observations/co-mediations can be very difficult to schedule, you can fulfill your observation/co-mediation requirement by taking instead an approved General Civil Mediation Practicum.  Domestic Relations Mediation has a specific approved Domestic Relations Practicum.

See our list of state-approved trainers for courses leading to registration. Registration is available online through our website.  An application checklist is posted there, as well.  For detailed registration requirements of neutrals, see Appendix B to the Georgia Supreme Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules.

Q: Do I need to be an attorney to be a registered neutral?

A: To be registered with the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution there is no requirement that a neutral be an attorney or have any other specific professional background.  However, domestic relations mediators must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university.  You must be an attorney if you serve as the sole arbitrator or the lead arbitrator on a panel in a court-referred or court-connected case. You must also be an attorney if you wish to register in Early Neutral Evaluation.

Registration is available online through our website.  An application checklist is posted there, as well.  For detailed registration requirements of neutrals, see Appendix B to the Georgia Supreme Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules.

Q: Can I register as a neutral if I have a criminal record or have been subject to professional discipline?

A: Having a criminal record or professional discipline will not necessarily prevent you from registering as a neutral. Each applicant for registration or renewal undergoes a criminal background check through the Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC). Factors in the registration decision include information from GCIC, the nature of the crimes or discipline, how long ago they occurred, the circumstances around the incidents, evidence of your rehabilitation after the incidents, your candor about your incidents on your application, and your cooperation with further inquiries from our office. In certain circumstances, the Committee on Ethics of the Commission on Dispute Resolution will review applications and make decisions on whether or not they should be accepted for registration.

Q: When I am registered, can I work in one of the court ADR programs?

A: Registration means you are qualified by the state to serve in the court-connected ADR system. But registration does not guarantee that any particular court ADR program must or will accept you as a neutral to serve in its local program.  Each local court program exercises its discretion with reference to the qualifications of each neutral. For this reason a local program may require a neutral to have training, education or experience beyond the Georgia Supreme Court's requirements.  The Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution provides neither ADR services nor referrals to registered neutrals.  The office does not forward your registration application to the individual court ADR programs.  We strongly urge you to contact the program in which you are interested for more information on these local requirements.

Q: Will ADR training I have taken outside of Georgia or my ADR experience outside of Georgia count toward the Georgia registration requirements?

A: In order to qualify for registration, all training must be in courses approved by the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution.   If you have completed or are considering a course that is not on the approved list, you must submit the course outline to the office for individual review. This list of approved trainers and trainings is available here.

The office frequently receives questions about registration from people who have received mediation training in another state. Those individuals fall into two categories: (1) those who have actually been serving as mediators in another state for at least a year; and (2) those who have received training in another state but have not been actively mediating in that state. In order to be considered for registration in Georgia, applicants in both categories will need to submit detailed information about their training. The office must make a determination about whether the out of state training was substantially similar to the training approved in Georgia. In order to do this, we need a detailed syllabus/course outline of the training that reflects topics, time spent on each topic, including role plays, and information about the qualifications of the trainer(s).

For general civil mediation training, any training taken after July 1, 2003, must have been at least 28 hours. In order to be considered "substantially similar," a training outline must demonstrate that pedagogical methods include a combination of lecture, role play, discussion and individual and participatory exercises and that the following substantive areas were included:

            1)   an overview of ADR processes

            2)   mediation theory/history; role of the mediator

            3)   the mediation process

            4)   communication skills, including listening, questioning, note taking, body language

            5)   conflict resolution techniques

            6)   agreement writing

            7)   ethics and professionalism

            8)   court process

            9)   handling escalating tension and violence in the mediation context (not domestic violence)

           10)  diversity awareness

For domestic relations mediation training, applicants must have completed a 42-hour training that was approved by the Family Section of the Association for Conflict Resolution. If the training certificate or materials do not confirm this approval, you may contact the Association for Conflict Resolution at www.acrnet.org to seek information confirming whether your training was approved.

For those who have been actively mediating court cases in another state, Appendix B (II) of the Georgia Supreme Court ADR Rules sets forth the requirements to apply for a waiver of the regular Georgia registration requirements:

Mediators from other states: A mediator from another state who (1) has received training which meets that state’s qualifications and, at the discretion of the Director, has had substantially similar training to that approved in Georgia; (2) has mediated for one year; (3) has completed a minimum of five mediations or ten hours of mediation during that time; and (4) meets the educational requirements of Appendix B may ask to be waived in for Georgia registration on the basis of that training. A mediator from another state who is waived in must be observed by a staff member of the court in which he or she intends to serve or submit a letter from the office of dispute resolution or director of the court program for which he or she served in the other state before applying for registration by the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution.  A mediator from another state who applies for registration will be required to take and pass a test on Georgia ethics provided by the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution as a prerequisite to registration."

If you are seeking the waiver based on your mediation work in another state, you will need to gather the information to document that you meet the above criteria (certificate of training completion, detailed information about the training as set forth above, copies of certification or registration in the other state, confirmation of the required number of completed mediations, letter from the Office of Dispute Resolution or director of a court program in the other state, etc.) You will need to submit all of these documents with your application for registration.

For those who have had training in another state but do not meet the above requirement, you may submit the information regarding your training to the office with your application. If the training is determined to be "substantially similar", you will still need to meet the other requirements for registration in Georgia including observations and letter(s) of recommendation. Domestic Violence Mediation, Delinquency Mediation, and Dependency Mediation training cannot be waived in from outside Georgia.

Registration is available online through our website.  An application checklist is posted there, as well.  For detailed registration requirements of neutrals, see Appendix B to the Georgia Supreme Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules.

Q: Is it possible for me to lose my registration?

A: Yes, neutrals can be removed from registration or denied registration renewal if they are found to have violated the law or mediator ethics. For more on mediator ethics, see Appendix C, Chapter 1 to the Georgia Supreme Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules. For the procedures used to handle questions about a neutral’s character or ethical conduct, see Appendix C, Chapter 2.

For more on the process for appealing a denial of registration and other detailed registration requirements of neutrals, see Appendix B to the Georgia Supreme Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules. For ethics rules and ethics procedures for mediators, see Appendix C to the Georgia Supreme Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules.

Q: What happens if I do not renew my registration by the deadline?

A: If you do not file your registration renewal application by the deadline (usually December 31 of your renewal year), or if you file your application after the renewal deadline, of if you fail to fulfill your renewal requirements by the deadline, your registration will be placed in a lapsed status. Lapsed neutrals may file renewal applications by midnight, April 30, of the following year upon payment of a late fee equal to their renewal fee, in addition to their regular renewal fee. Lapsed neutrals may continue to serve in court-connected programs.

After April 30, the registrations of all lapsed neutrals are placed in inactive status. Inactive neutrals may not serve in court-connected cases.  To reinstate their registrations, inactive neutrals must take 8 hours of appropriate CE, complete the online renewal application, and pay a late fee equal to their renewal fee, in addition to their regular renewal fee. Inactive neutrals may remain in inactive status for up to two years (730 days) from the date of their last registration renewal deadline. After day 730, inactive registrations become archived.  Inactive neutrals who apply for registration reinstatement after day 730 shall be required to meet all of the initial requirements for registration, including trainings and observations/co-mediations or practicums.

Registration is available online through our website.  An application checklist is posted there, as well.  For detailed registration requirements of neutrals, see Appendix B to the Georgia Supreme Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules.