Pre-Trial Diversion

What Happens at a Tennessee Divorce Mediation?

When the parties to a divorce are unable to reach an amicable out-of-court settlement, mediation may be agreed to by the parties or ordered by the court. If your divorce is headed for mediation, you probably want to know what to expect. While every mediation is unique, a Murfreesboro divorce attorney at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby offers an overview of what to expect from your Tennessee divorce mediation.

What Is Mediation?

Mediation is a type of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) method used in various types of civil litigation, including divorces. ThePre-Trial Diversion overall goal of medication is to help the parties resolve disputed issues, thereby reducing or eliminating disputes that require a court trial. Although Rule 31 allows the court to order the parties to attend mediation, not even the court can force you to reach a settlement during the mediation. If you do agree on some or all the disputed issues, that agreement can be presented to the court for approval. If all disputed issues are resolved at mediation, your divorce will not need to proceed to trial. If only some disputed issues are resolved, the remaining issues will proceed to trial.

What Is a Mediator’s Job?

The Court Clerk maintains a list of certified mediators who have received training in mediating family disputes. Some mediators also have specialized training in mediating cases where there is a presence or threat of domestic violence. Both sides will have input into selecting the mediator. A mediator’s job is not to decide disputed issues, to advocate for either party or to advise either party. Instead, the mediator acts as a neutral third party whose job is to facilitate negotiations between the parties. 

Where Does Mediation Take Place?

Even if mediation is ordered by the court, mediation is not part of the court proceedings. As such, mediation does not happen in the courtroom. Typically, mediation occurs at the mediator’s office. Depending on how contentious the parties are, the mediator may start with everyone in one room or may separate the parties initially.

Initial Conversations with the Mediator

Before mediation day, your attorney will have submitted documents and information to the mediator to allow him/her to become familiar with the divorce and any disputed issues. Nevertheless, the mediator may speak to each side independently at the start of the mediation process to try and get an idea of what their priorities are, what areas might be available for compromise, and what issues appear to be the most contentious.

Mediation Negotiations

Once the mediator has a clear handle on where both sides stand, the mediator’s job is to facilitate negotiations that lead to agreements. Every mediator has a unique style, and every divorce presents unique challenges. Nevertheless, the overall goal of the mediator is to get both parties to compromise on issues when possible. It is important to note that all negotiations, offers to compromise, and information shared during mediation remains confidential and cannot be used in court if the mediator is unsuccessful and the case proceeds to trial.

How To Get the Most out of Mediation

If your divorce is headed for mediation, the following five tips will help you get the most out of the experience:

  1. Prepare ahead of time by prioritizing your goals
  2. Be open to compromise
  3. Remember that you have nothing to lose
  4. Focus on the children (when applicable) and try to keep emotions out of the conversation
  5. Listen to your attorney’s advice

Contact a Murfreesboro Divorce Attorney

If you have additional questions about what to expect during a Tennessee divorce mediation, consult with an experienced Murfreesboro divorce attorney as soon as possible. Contact the team at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby as soon as possible by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.

Dinah Michael