If you are seeking a divorce in the State of Tennessee, divorce mediation is required in most situations. Mediation is also sometimes referred to as Alternative Dispute Resolution. Mediation is the process of parties in dispute working with a neutral third party, the mediator, in order to attempt to resolve the disputes by agreement. Obviously not all divorce cases can be resolved in mediation. But because of the deeply intimate and personal issues involved in a divorce. The state legislature and the courts in Tennessee require that the parties mediate their issues. In order to resolve or narrow the issues prior to a trial. In child custody disputes arising in a divorce action the parents must usually attend mediation. To attempt to reach agreement on a temporary parenting plan which deals with the parenting issues while the divorce is pending in the court.
The Basic Process of Divorce Mediation
Divorce mediation typically involves one of two basic formats. 1) The parties, husband and wife, sit together with the mediator. 2) The husband and wife are in separate rooms and the mediator works between them. The specific type of mediation process which works the best, depends heavily upon the facts of each divorce case. Certainly if domestic violence is possible it is probably better and safer to utilize the separated mediation style. Domestic violence mediation is usually performed by a mediator who is specially trained in such issues.
Often times the parties’ respective attorneys will also attend the mediation in order help facilitate the mediation process. And ensure that the divorce client has proper legal advice. The participation of the divorce attorneys also help to ensure that if a mediation agreement is reached that the written agreement is properly prepared.
Typically the mediator will set certain ground rules as to how the parties should communicate during the mediation process. Also the types of behaviors which the parties and the mediator determine to be unacceptable. After the laying the foundation the mediator then begins the process of identifying the problems and disputes and working towards a resolution.
Although mediation is not always successful in resolving all of the issues in a divorce, it often times brings the parties closer to an overall solution and serves to narrow the issues in controversy. A typical mediation session will last between 2 and 6 hours, but is much more cost effective as compared to a divorce trial – which involves trial costs, additional attorney fees as well as pre-trial preparation costs related to interrogatories, requests for production of documents, and depositions.
A Tennessee Mediator Must Be Certified
In Tennessee a divorce mediator must be certified in accordance with Rule 31 of the Tennessee Rules of the Supreme Court. Divorce mediators are often also licensed attorneys. However, the mediator’s function is not to give legal advice to either party But only to serve as a facilitator of settlement negotiations and discussions. If the parties reach an agreement on all or part of the issues the mediator then drafts the mediation agreement. The parties and/or their attorneys sign the agreement. It will then be left to the attorney or attorneys involved to incorporate the mediation agreement into a court order. Be sure to consult with a divorce lawyer about the mediation process and the benefits as well as the pitfalls involved in divorce mediation.
The courts in Tennessee have the discretion to waive the requirement to attend divorce mediation in certain cases. This is very rarely exercised however. Be sure to discuss issues like domestic violence with your divorce lawyer so that this may be addressed prior to a court order to attend mediation is issued.