From the Director
Welcome to our fourth issue of Be Neutral. We thank all of you
who have called and written with words of support and encouragement
about our e-newsletter. We hope each issue contains some useful,
educational, or interesting information for you and your practice.
Your comments and ideas are welcome.
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
and can also be accessed from the ARCHIVE button
below. Please take a look. If you know people who
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website, where they just need to enter their e-mail addresses.
Response to last month’s inaugural installment of Case
Watch was so high that we’ve brought you another one this month. This
month, attorney and mediator Mary Ellen Cates talks about the hard
decisions around “soft” money that divorcing parties have to make in
mediation to in order to agree on monthly child support payments.
Speaking of child support, updated electronic Child Support
Calculators are available. Please see the stories below.
Registration renewal season is coming up. This begins
the busy time of year when we get a lot of phone calls and e-mails
about continuing education, application deadlines, fees, etc. There
are only three staff members here. So if we don’t answer the phone
right away, it’s probably because we’re already on another line
talking with another neutral, or replying to an e-mail. Please leave
a message. We try to respond within 24 hours to all phone and e-mail
Some tips that will help us help you at all times:
If you are mailing us something important, first make copies and file
them, then send the material via a service that provides tracking and
delivery confirmation. If you are faxing us something important, keep
the fax transmittal confirmation. If you are e-mailing us something
important, request a return receipt when your message is delivered or
read (many e-mail programs allow this), and save it. Or save our
responses to your e-mail.
Georgia State University has been in the news lately
for fielding its very first football team. But we’re more excited
about a new restorative justice clearinghouse created by four GSU
entities. Keep reading below for more. (And forgive me while I crow
about my alma mater, GSU College of Law, which was just voted the No.
1 best-value law school in the country by
National Jurist magazine.)
Morokuma, Director GODR
Jobs in Ombuds Offices Available in Atlanta
Help keep the peace on a college campus. The Savannah
College of Art and Design (SCAD) is looking for an
ombudsman for its Atlanta campus. And Georgia State University is
looking for a
coordinator in the ombuds office. While we’re talking conflict
resolution jobs, www.mediate.com/jobs
is a great source for employment opportunities all over the country.
And the world – there’s a job in the United Kingdom on the list right
now. Make it habit to check the job listing regularly.
Case Watch: For Mediators
include overtime pay or not to include overtime pay. That is the
question that litigants, attorneys and mediators frequently face when
determining gross monthly income for the purpose of calculating
monthly child support amounts. Whether to count “variable income”
such as tips, commissions, and overtime pay and to what degree is the
source of much hard bargaining and hard feelings in divorce
mediations. In this installment of Case Watch, veteran divorce
attorney and registered mediator Mary Ellen Cates analyzes a 2009
Georgia Supreme Court case that helps to answer these contentious
New Child Support Calculators Available Now
Version 8.3 of the electronic Excel Child Support Calculators was
deployed on September 29 for public use. The two electronic
calculators were improved to resolve display, spacing and protection
issues that had been identified since the release of version 8.2 on
March 17. None of the issues identified and resolved in version 8.3
have any impact on the calculations.
The new version fixes three issues: 1) line spacing on
the Data Entry Form; 2) protection added to both workbooks to ensure
the naming structure of the tabs (i.e., Schedule A) cannot be altered
as doing so can corrupt the Worksheet (user would encountered a
Microsoft debug error message); and 3) Schedule E deviation
description types did not always display correctly on Line 10 of the
Please visit the Child Support Commission web site at
download version 8.3 for immediate use. Or go to
Tis the Season:
Registration Renewal Starts November 1
registration renewal season will be from November 1 to December 31,
2010. All registered neutrals will need to renew, except those
new neutrals with a registration expiration date of 1/1/2011. Online
renewal access and fillable, downloadable renewal forms will be
available on our website on November 1. Please don’t send us
renewal information yet! Any applications submitted after
December 31, 2010 will be considered late. Details:
All renewing neutrals must show on their renewal applications that
they have taken at least 3 hours of continuing education in 2010 (not
2009, 2008, etc.). You can no longer carry over CE hours from
previous years or toward future years.
The basic renewal fee is $125; it is $150 for those registered in
domestic relations mediation. Note: if you submit your
application after December 31, 2010, your application will be
considered late, and your renewal fee will double to $250 or $300. We
don’t want you to have to pay the late fee, so please submit your
application before December 31, 2010.
The GBI requires all renewing neutrals to submit a personally
signed signature page that gives GODR permission to run a criminal
background check. For those submitting printed applications, the
signature page is the last page of the renewal form. For those
submitting renewals online,
you need to print and send us your signed signature page separately.
Your application will not be processed without it. Mail, e-mail, or
fax your signature page to us.
Frequently Asked Questions for information on renewal fees, what
counts as neutral CE and how to earn CE.
**Always send important documents to GODR via a service
that offers tracking and delivery confirmation.**
Restorative Justice Clearinghouse
at Georgia State University
A new website serves as an information resource and
networking hub for those interested in the field of restorative
Restorative Justice Clearinghouse, the first of its kind in the
southeast, is a joint project of four institutions at Georgia State
Council for Restorative Justice, the
School of Social Work, the
Consortium on Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, and the
College of Law. The website features a searchable database of
federal and states statutes, case law, programs, people, and
publications; links to full-text versions of articles, statutes, and
case law; links to practitioner and organization web pages; and a blog
where users can discuss and share information.
So what is “restorative justice?” It is a conflict
resolution philosophy that focuses on addressing the needs of victims
rather than the wrongdoing of offenders. Restorative approaches to
justice seek to engage and empower impacted parties – including the
offenders, the victims, their families and their communities. The
restorative approach to justice is grounded in four questions:
harms have been done to whom?
are the victims’ needs?
does it take to repair the harm?
responsible or obliged to participate in making things right?
Those of you who mediate delinquency cases in juvenile
court are already familiar with one form of restorative justice.
There, mediation brings together not only the juvenile offender, but
the child’s parents, and the victim of the juvenile’s actions – a
merchant from whom the juvenile shoplifted, for example. The mediator
helps the juvenile to understand the harm done to the victim and to
engage all parties in working out an appropriate form of restitution.
But there is so much more to the concept and the field; check out the
Clearinghouse website for more information.
Neutrals Are Being Sued More Often
As mediation becomes more popular in the courts and in the private
sector, more mediators are finding themselves on the receiving end of
a lawsuit. See this
article. To protect
yourself and your assets, you need professional liability insurance
designed specifically for mediators and arbitrators. As a Georgia
registered neutral, you can purchase insurance at low group rates and
with additional benefits through our exclusive agreement with
Complete Equity Markets. See our
website for more information or contact
Betsy Thomas with
Complete Equity Markets at 800-324-6234, ext. 472, and tell her
you’re a Georgia registered neutral!
Another benefit of being a Georgia-registered neutral
is your access to our exclusive insurance and retirement program.
Talk to the experts at
Financial, who can advise you on your insurance needs and
help you find deals on major medical insurance, healthcare savings
accounts, dental and vision insurance, retirement accounts and more,
check out the
Registered Neutrals Insurance and Retirement Programs website.
Keep Saving the Date -
16th Annual ADR Institue
The 16th Annual ADR Institute and 2010 Neutrals’
Conference will be held Friday, December 10, 2010, at the State Bar of
Georgia Conference Center, 104 Marietta St. NW, Atlanta. Attendance
was standing room only last year, and we hope to fill as many seats or
more this year. At least 6 hours of neutral continuing education and
6 hours of CLE (including that rare 1 Ethics Hour) will be available.
More details and conference registration will be available through
www.iclega.org in November. Stay tuned!
Upcoming CE and Training Offerings
Registration renewal season begins November 1. But there’s no reason
to panic about your annual 3-hour neutral CE requirement. Remember,
any training you took in 2010 counts as CE. Lawyers, any CLE you took
in 2010 counts as CE. Likewise, judges, any CJE you took in 2010
counts as CE. Accountants and other professionals with continuing
education requirements, same thing. And any ADR-related seminar or
training you attended in 2010 just because you wanted to learn
something, yes, that counts as CE also. Check frequently at our
website for the latest CE and
We Need Your Help
Neutrals and friends, GODR needs your help to update the
“ADR Links” section in the main menu of our website. We update
those links when we’re notified of changes. But frankly, we haven’t
had the resources to test if all of those links are current. The
section is split into five subsections: “ADR Organizations,” “Academic
and Education Links,” “ADR Journals/Publications,” “Court-Connected
ADR Links Outside Georgia,” and “More ADR Resources.” Please send us
any updates to the information – changed name of entity, new web
address, new entity, etc., at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for helping us be a better resource for
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 link at the
bottom of this newsletter 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 !