Tennessee Divorce Mediation

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Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a relatively novel method implemented by the court to solve conflicts without trials. The theory of this method is that there must be a formal procedure by which the opposing parties can meet and talk regarding the disputed issues. One of the forms of ADR is Mediation.

Rule 31 of Tennessee Divorce Mediation

  • In accordance with the provisions of this rule, the opposing parties may be ordered by the Court to take part in ADR.
  • Mediation can be defined as a procedure during which a neutral individual, referred to as the mediator, executes talks between the opposing parties with an intention of reaching a mutually acceptable agreement pertaining to some or all of the disputed issues.
  • Non-binding arbitration is defined as a process in which a neutral panel or person, referred to as an arbitration panel or arbitrator, takes into consideration the arguments and facts revealed by the opposing parties and forms a decision that is non-binding.
  • Case evaluation is defined as a process in which a neutral panel or person, referred to as an evaluation panel or evaluator, receives short presentations of the parties that summarize their positions and points out the regions of agreement and the prime topics in dispute. Thereafter, the parties are offered an evaluation of the relative weaknesses and strengths of the case.
  • The Court, in accordance with its own motion or the motion of either party, might order the parties to take part in a case evaluation, mediation or judicial settlement conference.
  • In the course of Court-ordered ADR, the proofs of statements or conduct are inadmissible in Court to the similar extent as are inadmissible as per Tennessee Rules of Evidence 408.
  • The confidentiality of all ADRs shall be preserved and maintained by the settlement judge or the neutral person, unless it is compulsory by law to reveal the proceedings.
  • During ADR processes, lawyers may be present with their clients.

Standards of professional conduct for mediators in Tennessee Divorce Mediation

The Mediation Process

Orientation Session: During this session, the mediator makes it clear to the opposing parties that this is a consensual process, the mediator is an impartial facilitator and the parties cannot be coerced with any settlement by the mediator.

Continuation of Mediation: If it appears that one or both opposing parties are unable or reluctant to take part in the mediation in a meaningful way or the case is not suitable for mediation, then the mediator should not inappropriately or unnecessarily extend a mediation session.

Professional Advice

If a mediator is not qualified by experience or training to offer certain information, such a mediator should not offer such information.

When a mediator concludes that one or both parties cannot realize how an agreement would wrongly affect the legal obligations and rights, then the mediator should recommend independent legal advice for the parties.

A mediator can indicate the possible results of a certain case, but should never provide the parties with a definite opinion how the Court would solve the conflict.

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