From the Director:
IMPORTANT NOTICE: Verification of Lawful Presence Required
A new Georgia law takes effect in the new year that will affect
The Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011 (O.C.G.A. §
50-36-1(e)), becomes effective January 1, 2012. Under the new
law, all people applying for registration, registration renewal or
registration reinstatement with the Georgia Office of Dispute
Resolution starting January 1, 2012, must verify their lawful presence
in the United States.
This law does not affect any applications submitted by December 31,
2011. However, any applications submitted after that date will be
subject to the new law’s requirements.
Therefore, as of January 1, 2012, before your registration can be
issued, renewed or reinstated you are required to:
copy of a secure and verifiable document issued to you by a state
or federal jurisdiction or recognized by the United States
government and that is verifiable by federal or state law
enforcement, intelligence, or homeland security agencies.
A listing of acceptable secure and
verifiable documents, as determined by the Office fot eh Attorney
General, Georgia, can be found at the Attorney General's website
under "Key Issues," then "Immigration Report," or directly at this
signed and sworn affidavit verifying your lawful presence in the
United States. The affidavit to use for this purpose can
be found at the GODR website under "Forms and Applications" or
directly at this link:
Information and forms will also be appended to downloadable and online
application forms. As far as we know, we will be required to collect
this information from renewing neutrals every renewal season.
And a reminder: On-time registration renewal season ends December 31,
2011. Applications submitted after that date will be charged double
the on-time registration fee, so please renew on time!
Morokuma, Director, GODR
Registration Renewal Deadline is December 31, 2011!!!
The 2011 on-time renewal season ends December 31, 2011. If you
submit your renewal application after December 31, 2011, then you will
have to pay double your normal renewal fee, so please renew on
Complete instructions and renewal materials are available at
www.godr.org. All neutrals will need to renew except those few
whose registration expiration date is 1/1/2013. Check your
information by logging into your neutral account. Find login
The renewal application will be entirely online except for payment,
which can be made by check/money order or online by credit card via
PayPal. You do not need to have or open a PayPal account to pay your
fee through PayPal.
Continuing Education: All renewing neutrals must submit
3 hours of continuing education. The CE you submit must have been
taken since your last renewal or since you first registered, whichever
came later. Carryover hours cannot be used.
and CJE qualify as neutral CE. Information on what
qualifies as CE and how to earn CE can be found under
“Help! I Need CE!” at
Renewal Fee: The base renewal fee $125.
For neutrals registered in domestic relations mediation the renewal
fee is $150. If you renew after December 31, 2011, then
you will have to pay double your normal renewal fee, so please renew
on time. You can pay by check/money order or online by credit card
via PayPal. You do not need to have or open a PayPal account to pay
your fee through PayPal.
If you are a volunteer neutral – that is, you receive no
compensation, no matter how small, providing ADR services within or
outside a court program – you and your court-connected program
director can submit a sworn affidavit with your renewal application to
have your fee waived this renewal season.
be considered a volunteer, you must have provided ADR services to a
Georgia court program in the past year. 2011
volunteer affidavits can be downloaded from
“Forms and Applications” at
Background Check Authorization:
The GBI requires that GODR have hand-signed permission from each
neutral before we run background checks. GODR has begun using a new
long-term authorization form that eliminated the need for neutrals to
authorize us by signature each time. Once we have your long-term
authorization, you will never have to submit another background
check authorization again for as long as your registration status
Most neutrals have already sent us their long-term authorizations. If
you have not done so, please download, sign and send us the form,
“Forms and Applications” at
www.godr.org. Your renewal application cannot be processed
without authorization to complete the background check.
More Information: Renewal instructions and information
here on our website.
Most neutrals will be able to complete paperless renewals this
season. If you have documents to send us, we can accept them via scan
and e-mail, fax or mail. When mailing anything important to us, we
strongly recommend that you use a service that provides tracking and
delivery confirmation (certified mail/return receipt, Priority Mail,
UPS, FedEx, etc.)
If you have questions about renewal, please e-mail us at
email@example.com or call us at 404-463-3788.
Quick Question and Answer
there any possibility that registered neutrals could once again carry
over excess CE credits from one renewal season to the next?
When the Commission on Dispute Resolution shortened the registered
period from two years to one year in 2009, it also changed the
continuing education requirement from 6 hours every two years to 3
hours every year. The Commission also stopped accepting excess CE
hours carried over from the previous renewal cycle. The reason for
this change was to encourage registered neutrals to take CE that was
current and increase the likelihood that they would stay up to date on
their knowledge and skills. Because there are so many ways for
registered neutrals to earn CE each year, the Commission felt that the
lack of carryover hours would be a minimal imposition.
It is possible that the Commission would reinstate carryover CE hours,
but only if a compelling argument can be made that the burden of
taking CE every year outweigh the potential benefits to neutrals’
GODR is committed to making it easier for neutrals to earn CE each
year. GODR has posted two, free 1-hour videos from past ADR
Institutes, and it plans to post a 1-hour video from every successive
ADR institute. GODR is also constantly searching for other
opportunities for online CE learning.
GODR MEMBER BENEFIT SPOTLIGHT – AUTO
Georgia Registered Neutrals may receive a discount on auto insurance
through MetLife Auto & Home. This benefit is made available by BPC
Financial, the administrator of the GODR Registered Neutrals Insurance
& Retirement Programs.
Visit program website to receive a No
Obligation quote today >
Products sold and serviced by BPC Financial, the administrator of the
Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution (GODR) Insurance Programs. GODR
is not a licensed insurance entity and does not sell insurance.
CaseWatch for Mediators:
When Should Fringe Benefits Be Counted as Income?
workers are fortunate to receive a variety of benefits paid in full or
in part by their employers – health insurance, life insurance, phone,
car. But when calculating child support obligations, which
employer-provided benefits count as gross income and which ones
don’t? Mary Ellen Cates, divorce attorney and registered mediator,
uses one Georgia Supreme Court case to help us find the answers, in
this month’s CaseWatch for Mediators.
CaseWatch for Arbitrators: Awards Confirmation Deadlines Not Tolled
by Clarification Requests
Deadlines are final. That’s probably why they have the word “dead” in
them. In the legal field, the consequences of missing a deadline can
be fatal to a cause. This month, John Allgood, Esq., veteran
attorney, registered mediator and arbitrator, highlights a Georgia
Court of Appeals case that shows that deadlines are not to be trifled
with when an arbitration award awaits confirmation by a court.
Practice Tip: Mindfulness in Mediation
Raise your hands if you know someone who has confused mediation and
meditation. Well, they may have been onto something, it turns out.
Mediators who are mindful – calmly self-aware – can encourage the same
behavior in their parties. In this Practice Tip column, Registered
Mediator Chris Carlsten tells you how your mindfulness can put your
parties in a state of mind where they can be empowered to cooperate
and collaborate on a resolution to their dispute.
Code Revision to
Enhance Georgia as International Arbitration Venue
Arbitration is the preferred method of dispute resolution in
international commerce. Many states have revised their arbitration
laws in an effort to make their legal climates more attractive for
international business. Georgia is no exception. The Metro Atlanta
Chamber of Commerce, most of the major Atlanta law firms, the American
Arbitration Association, other ADR providers, and many international
businesses have formed the Atlanta International Arbitration Society,
whose purpose is to promote Atlanta and Georgia as favorable venues
for international commercial arbitration. Professor Douglas H. Yarn
of Georgia State University College of Law, was asked to revise the
Georgia Arbitration Code to reflect advancements in the field since
1988. His executive summary explains the purpose and substance of
Georgia Mediators Association: Humble Beginnings
The Georgia Mediators Association is an exciting and growing
organization that had its humble beginnings in two separate, small,
but dedicated groups – the Family Mediation Association of Georgia and
the Cobb Mediators Association.
The Family Mediation Association of Georgia was first on the mediation
scene, started by Betty Manley in about 1985. This group was
dedicated to promoting family mediation, supporting mediators, and
serving as an information link between mediators and the courts that
were just then getting into mediation. This group remained intact
A group of dedicated mediators who were certified by the Cobb County
Superior Court initiated the Cobb Mediators Association in 1993. They
were also small but active until 2004, when it joined with Family
Mediation Association of Georgia and the new organization was named
the Georgia Mediators Association. The goal was to take GMA’s
membership statewide. Up to this point, most of the activity of both
organizations had been confined to the metro Atlanta counties, making
it difficult for the rest of the state to have a voice and take
advantage of continuing education programs that were concentrated in
GMA has made great strides towards this goal, now having board members
from Athens, St. Simons and Macon, and general membership reaching all
over the state. GMA is planning a series of three-hour continuing
education programs to be offered in Savannah, Columbus, Macon and
Gainesville (see our website’s continuing education section for dates
and times). Our goal is to continue to grow in number as well as
respond to the needs of mediators statewide.
If you’re interested in joining GMA, please contact our Membership
Chair, Roy Finch, 150 E. Washington St., Athens, GA 30601, 706
Royfinch@bellsouth.net. Or download a membership application form
Marti Kitchens, M.A., [photo], is registered mediator, a Licensed
Marriage and Family Therapist, and a member of the Georgia Commission
on Dispute Resolution.
Benefits: Exclusive Insurance Products for Registered Neutrals
Georgia-registered neutrals are entitled to participate in several
insurance and retirement programs that have been designed specifically
for them. If you need insurance, are planning for retirement, talk to
the experts at
BPC Financial. They manage our new exclusive insurance and
retirement program, and they can advise you on your insurance needs
and help you find good deals on major medical insurance, healthcare
savings accounts, dental and vision insurance, term life insurance and
more. Registered neutrals receive the benefits of underwriting
concessions, enhanced benefits, or reduced premiums and fees compared
to shopping for similar products on the open market. Check out the
GODR Registered Neutrals Insurance and Retirement Programs website.
We’ve also arranged for special benefits on professional liability
insurance for registered mediators and arbitrators with
Complete Equity Markets. See our
website for more information or contact
Betsy Thomas, 800-323-6234, ext. 472, and tell her you’re a
Georgia registered neutral!
Resources for Georgia ADR Professionals
We encourage you to visit the
blog created by Georgia State University law professor Doug Yarn
and GSU law student Alex Salzillo to inform and encourage discussion.
Please add it to your reading list, send the link to your colleagues,
and visit often. The address:
don’t forget the
Georgia Mediators Network, a great Facebook resource for the
latest mediation news and articles from around the world. The page
has been visited tens of thousands of times in just the few short
months it’s been around. Use the information there to pump your own
professional web pages and your expertise. The Georgia Mediators
Network is the brainchild of registered mediator Michele Gibson, our
marketing columnist and newsletter producer.
Upcoming CE and
It’s renewal season! Check frequently at our
website for the latest CE and training offerings. Remember, any
ADR-related training you take counts as CE as long as you took it
since your last renewal or your initial registration, whichever comes
later. Lawyers, any CLE you took during that same time period counts
as CE. Likewise, judges and CJE. Accountants and other professionals
with CE requirements, same thing.
And remember, we posted two videos on our website that registered
neutrals can watch for free to earn CE credit. Each video is one-hour
long. Neutrals are free to watch the videos as many times as they
wish, but we can only award 1 CE hour credit for each video once a
renewal season. Please note the date you finished viewing each video
so you can report it on your renewal form. Remember, registered
neutrals are required to take at least 3 hours of CE each year in
order to renew their registrations. Look for the link,
“Continuing Education Videos,” in the main menu of our website.
For more information on what qualifies for CE, please see the
“Help! I Need CE!” link on our website.
Back Issues Available Online
is sent monthly to all registered neutrals, generally at the beginning
of the month. If you missed an issue, our back issues are posted at
the bottom right of our website, under
“Newsletter Archive.” Please take a look. If you know people who
want Be Neutral, please direct them to our subscription box at
the bottom right of our
website, where they just need to enter their e-mail addresses.
Please forward this newsletter to anyone who might be interested in
ADR in Georgia courts. Forward it just as you would any other
e-mail. If folks who are not registered neutrals want to receive the
newsletter free of charge, they can submit their e-mail addresses in
the subscription box at the bottom right of our
website. And sending us feedback is easy – just reply to this
e-mail as you would any other e-mail. We want to hear from you!
Spread the Word
Please forward this newsletter to anyone who might be interested in ADR in Georgia courts. Forward it just as you would any other e-mail.
If folks who are not registered neutrals want to receive the
newsletter free of charge, they can use the subscription box at below this
text or submit their e-mail addresses in the
subscription box at the bottom right of the home page of our
website. And sending us feedback is easy – just reply to this
e-mail as you would any other e-mail. We want to hear from you !