Two New Members Sworn
Gregory A. Adams, Superior Court, Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit, and
Ken Shigley, president of the State Bar of Georgia, are the newest
members of the Commission on Dispute Resolution. Judge Adams and Mr.
Shigley were sworn in by Commission Member Justice Hugh P. Thompson,
Supreme Court of Georgia, at the Commission meeting on September 1,
Commission on Dispute Resolution plays a vital role in Georgia’s
justice system,” Justice Thompson said. “Judge Adams and Mr. Shigley
will enhance our Commission’s work as we create efficiencies for the
citizens of our State,”
delighted to welcome Judge Adams and Mr. Shigley to serve on our
Commission,” said Edith B. Primm, Esq., Chair of the Commission. “Our
alternative dispute resolution system continues to thrive in the
courts through the unwavering support of our judges and our
long-standing partnership with the State Bar of Georgia.”
Adams was elected to the superior court bench in 2004 and previously
served as a juvenile court judge in DeKalb County. Mr. Shigley,
2011-12 president of the State Bar of Georgia, is a trial attorney at
Chambers Aholt & Rickard with over 30 years of experience in trial,
litigation, and dispute resolution practice.
Updated Guidelines for Revised Federal Income Withholding Form
reported in the
July issue of Be Neutral, the federal government required in May
2011 that a newly revised federal Income Withholding form be used by
all divorcing parties who agree to an income deduction plan for child
support payments. (An informative article on the newly revised form
and related statutes, by Jill Radwin, Esq., of the Child Support
Collaborative Project, is available
Unfortunately, a portion of this new federally created form would
cause users to violate Georgia law. The new form should be
used to fulfill the requirements of O.C.G.A. § 19-6-33. However, the
form should not be filed with the court (to do so violates
O.C.G.A. § 10-1-393.8). Instead, the new form should be sent to the
obligor’s employer, together with an Income Deduction Order properly
issued by the court under O.C.G.A. § 19-6-32.
ways for Georgia users to comply with both federal and state
requirements, representatives from Georgia participated in the Federal
Office of Child Support Enforcement’s recent employer symposium.
Georgia representatives voiced various objections to the form, and for
Georgia it was decided that practitioners should use the form as a
notice; the form should not be considered an order
that would require a judge’s signature
and would be filed in with the court clerk despite the form’s
containing a Social Security number.
more detailed changes to the form here in Georgia:
p. 1, the revised income withholding form is titled “Income
Withholding for Support.” The check boxes below the title can identify
the form as “Original Income Withholding Order/Notice for Support (IWO).”
In Georgia, practitioners should consider the form as a “Notice” to a
payor, not an “Order.” In fact, it is good practice to simply
cross out the word “Order” on the form.
p. 2, in Georgia, a judge should not sign the Incoming
Withholding Notice. In fact, it is good practice to simply cross out
the word “Judge” on the form. The form should be signed instead by an
“Issuing Official,” who can be any number of people, including the
custodial party, the non-custodial party, their attorneys or the
attorneys’ staff, or child support agency staff – but not
mediators. Mediators should never sign any form in mediation except
the mediation guidelines/agreement to mediate and any mediation
agreement or report.
Georgia, the completed Income Withholding Notice should be sent to the
employer whose employee has been ordered to pay child support.
Because the form requires the non-custodial parent’s Social Security
Number, the form should not be sent to a judge or to a court.
Sending a document containing a Social Security Number to court –
where it will become a public document – is a violation of Georgia
Note: Parties must submit to the obligor’s employer a signed Income
Deduction Order from the court along with the completed federal Income
Withholding Notice. Completion of the child support agreement is no
longer the only step the parties need to complete to have the
Because in Georgia the federal Income Withholding form is a “Notice”
that can be signed by an “Issuing Official” and not an order requiring
a judge’s signature, mediators are not prohibited from helping parties
to fill out the Income Withholding Notice. Making parties aware of
the requirement to use the newly revised form in income deduction
cases is not the unlicensed practice of law. Nor is directing
parties to the form itself. (For more on the Commission’s position on
mediators and UPL, please review
Advisory Opinion 7, posted at the
“Mediator Ethics Information” link on our website,
to the revised Income Withholding Notice and instructions are below.
OMB 0970-0154 Form Final
OMB 0970-0154 Form Instructions Final
Q & A:
Federal and State Legislative Requirements: Income Withholding and the
State Disbursement Unit
more information about the federal Incoming Withholding Notice, please
Erica Thornton at 404-657-1131,
firstname.lastname@example.org, or Elaine Johnson, Child Support
Guidelines Coordinator, at 404-463-6383,
Send in Your New Background Check Authorization Form
reminder that we need a new background check authorization form from
all registered neutrals.
has begun using this new “permanent” form through which you can
authorize us to check your background whenever necessary, without your
having to authorize it by signature each time. Once we have your
permanent authorization, you will never have to submit another
background check authorization again for as long as your
registration status is active or inactive.
new form simplifies the registration renewal process and eliminates
several trees’ worth of paperwork.
form is posted on our website under “Forms and Applications.” If you
haven’t done so already, please fill it out, print it, sign it, and
send it to us via e-mail, fax, post or express delivery as soon as
possible so we can have it on file well before the 2011 renewal season
starts November 1. We recommend that you always send important
documents to GODR via a service that offers tracking and delivery
Quick Question and Answer
How can I get started in ADR once I receive
That depends on what area you want to work in. The registration
credential was created for the court system. Registration is just the
first step if you want to handle court-connected cases. Most cases
are referred through the
local court ADR programs, although some neutrals are referred
court cases directly. The court programs have the authority under the
Supreme Court ADR Rules to maintain local rosters of approved
registered neutrals and to set more stringent approval requirements
than those of the state.
What can make you more attractive to a selective local court program?
First, it helps if you have experience, of course, and the more
experience you have, the better. Second, it helps if you are a good
mediator or arbitrator, with a good reputation and recommendations
from experts. Third, obviously, the more training and the more
registration categories you have, the more versatile you will be to an
ADR court program. Lastly, special skills, such as foreign language
and cultural skills, are a plus, as is education or expertise in
subject matter that comes up in court frequently. For example, if a
court is located near an Air Force base and handles lots of cases
involving Air Force personnel, any experience you have in military
matters would make you more valuable to the local court ADR program.
But as you may have found already, the court system has lots of
mediators vying for relatively few open slots on local rosters. It is
very competitive, and it is not a viable full-time career option for
most neutrals. Remember, though, that your registration can help you
to find conflict resolution work outside the courts. Many neutrals
who have no intention of handling court cases nonetheless seek and
maintain their Georgia registrations because the credential has value
to them beyond the courts and beyond Georgia.
Some companies – the American Arbitration Association, for example –
specialize in providing conflict resolution services. The federal
courts and smaller local courts use ADR. Many federal, state and
local government agencies, non-profit organizations, private
companies, public and private schools, college and universities,
churches, associations, and other organizations have conflict
management systems in place or use in-house or outside mediators and
arbitrators. As you would when starting any new venture, be patient,
creative and broad in your search for conflict resolution
One last tip: As you’re looking for work, take every opportunity you
can to learn about the ADR field and to network with professionals in
the ADR and legal communities. You’re more likely to hear about work
from people who know you and know your abilities.
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!
GODR MEMBER BENEFIT SPOTLIGHT –
Quarterly Member Dental Open Enrollment
• Group rates
• Dual-option PPO plan options as low as $23.48/month.
• Add optional Vision coverage.
• Also available as a voluntary benefit for your EMPLOYEES.
• No minimum participation requirements for firms.
Online Enrollment >
If links in this email are not working, please visit
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
CaseWatch for Mediators:
Danger! Know Your Ethical Limits!
Mediators are generally a very trusting bunch. When people tell us
that something is true, we want to take believe them. That’s fine out
in the real world, but in mediation, you should expect parties to back
up their assertions, particularly when it comes to critical financial
information. In this month’s CaseWatch for Mediators, Mary Ellen
Cates, divorce attorney and registered mediator, shows us how badly
things can go when parties are absolutely sure their right – when
Arbitrators Can Draft Awards that Withstand Challenges
It’s not uncommon for arbitration awards to be challenged. As
arbitrators, we can anticipate these challenges and give the courts
critical information to decide whether to confirm or vacate
arbitration awards. This month, John Allgood, Esq., veteran attorney,
registered mediator and arbitrator, cites a recent Georgia Court of
Appeals case to show us how to draft an arbitration award that will
survive a challenge.
How to “Go Viral” with Your Marketing
You don’t want viruses. But you definitely want to “go viral” with
your marketing efforts. This month, our marketing maven and
registered mediator Michele Gibson, shows you how you can harness the
worldwide “word of mouth” power of the internet to make yourself a
Jobs: KSU Hiring
for Two Tenure-Track Conflict Resolution Posts
Kennesaw State University is seeking a staff member and a faculty
member for its Master of Science in Conflict Management Program:
Director of the Conflict Management Program, and Assistant Professor
of Psychology/Conflict Management. Both postings close October 15,
2011. Good luck!
Save the Date: 2011 ADR
The 18th Annual ADR Institute and 2011 Neutrals’ Conference will be
held Friday, December 9, 2011, at the State Bar of Georgia Conference
Center, 104 Marietta St. NW, Atlanta. We set an attendance record
last year, and based on the speakers we are lining up, we think this
year’s conference will be even more popular. At least 6 hours of
neutral continuing education and 6 hours of CLE (including 1 Ethics
Hour) will be available. More details and conference registration
will be available through
www.iclega.org in November. Stay tuned!
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:
And 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
Don’t wait until the 2012 renewal season to get your CEs. 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 recently 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 !