Divorce Mediation Process In Tennessee

It’s common for people experiencing the court process for the first time through divorce to have questions about mediation. In almost every divorce in Tennessee, since The Tennessee legislature enacted T.C.A. 36-4-131(a) where each party of a divorce must attempt to settle their disputes through this process, mediation will mediation be required by a judge prior to setting a trial date.  However, there are certain waivers of required mediation as found in the Tennessee code T.C.A. 36-4-131(b) including the following:

  • If either party cannot financially afford the cost and expense of hiring a mediator (but the requirement still applies if the mediator’s fee is waived or subsidized by the state)
  • If the parties have filed a Marital Dissolution Agreement, Agreed Order or Final Judgment addressing all issues
  • If a settlement conference has been held with the court or special master
  • If the court believes impasse will result from mediation

What Is Mediation?

Divorce mediation, which is also called “alternative dispute resolution,” refers to the process by which a specially-trained, neutral third-party mediator meets with a divorcing couple to help them resolve their disputes prior to going through a court trial. Because the mediator is neutral, he or she will not advocate on behalf of either party and does not offer legal advice. The goal of mediation is to have both parties make concessions so that they can reach an agreement on their own, rather than going before a judge. Mediation is confidential meaning the mediator cannot be called as a witness at trial if a divorcing couple are unable to settle. That means any discussions that occur in the course of settlement negotiations during mediation cannot be disclosed at trial.

What To Expect During Mediation

Typically, the mediator will place the parties in separate rooms with the attorneys of the divorcing couples present. Your attorney can provide you with legal advice while in mediation, including the consequences of any agreement you reach. The mediator could choose to place the parties in the same room, but many times in family law cases, the emotions are high and it is deemed best to have the parties separated. When the parties are separated, the mediator will move between each room, working toward resolution.  When negotiations are successful and an agreement is reached, the parties will enter into a binding, written agreement while at mediation. Typically, the parties will draft and sign all necessary documents while at mediation, including the Marital Dissolution Agreement, Parenting Plan and Child Support Worksheet.

If you are considering divorce, contact our attorney Donna Wagner today to schedule your consultation. Ms. Wagner is experienced in handling all kinds of divorces, and we will work with you to meet your needs in each of these areas.

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