The divorce process can be rough on everyone involved. However, a contentious litigation battle does not have to number among the unavoidable unpleasantnesses you face.
In a contested divorce, Tennessee law requires mandatory mediation sessions. If you want to file for an uncontested divorce with an agreement, mediation or other forms of collaborative law can make it easier to achieve your goal of arriving at a consensus.
The mediation requirement
Because the law requires couples in a contested divorce proceeding to go through mediation, judges will typically order mediation before beginning to set a trial schedule. In some cases, however, the court will bypass the mediation process instead.
Grounds for waiver
A judge will not make the couple attend mediation if it is clear sessions will not be fruitful. Most often, this can happen if either or both parties submit evidence one of the parties is acting deceptively or there exist allegations of abuse. Courts may also waive mediation if the parties have already engaged in formal attempts at settlement through prior mediation or a settlement conference.
How mediation works
A mediator acts as a neutral third party who facilitates communication between the couple. He or she can suggest solutions but may not order either party to accept them. The mediator cannot provide legal advice or other help to either party.
Mediation can offer several important benefits for parties who approach it with a positive attitude and a willingness to compromise. Successful mediation can save time and money as compared to litigation. Because the process aims to de-escalate conflict and build consensus, it can also eliminate a lot of the emotional wear-and-tear that often occurs during an adversarial divorce. This can be particularly important for parents with children who need to put aside their negativity and keep working together for the children’s benefit.
Your attorney’s role
An experienced attorney can guide you through the mediation process, explain the pros and cons of various compromise suggestions and draft and review agreement provisions. Your attorney can also determine if mediation can hurt rather than help in your case and request a waiver from the court.