Preparing for family mediation will maximize the benefits of this conflict resolution tool. Mediation is required in all contested family law cases in Tennessee. This includes divorce, paternity, custody, visitation, custody/visitation modification cases.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a process through which an attempt is made to resolve or settle disputes prior to trial. The session is conducted by a Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 31 Mediator. Most Rule 31 Mediators are lawyers who have received additional mediation training. Non-lawyers are permitted to be mediators who meet certain criteria.
Mediation is an opportunity to control the results of your case before turning it over to a Judge. Statistics have shown people are more likely to comply with the terms of an agreement as compared to rulings from the court. This can reduce both the expenses and emotional strain of a family law case.
Preparing for Mediation
Many lawyers do not prepare their clients for mediation. They either do not put in the effort or just assume the case will not settle. I have seen many cases where the failure to prepare impairs or defeats the mediation process. Clients should insist upon being informed about the process and adequately preparing. Preparation should include the following:
- Provide income and asset information to your attorney and insist they obtain the same information from the other side. You cannot divide assets and calculate child support and alimony without this basic information.
- Schedule an appointment to prepare with your lawyer a couple of weeks prior to the session.
- Discuss and prioritize outcome goals with your lawyer. These may have changed since the case began.
- Insist your lawyer send a summary of the facts and issues to be resolved to the mediator. Self-represented parties should also provide this information.
- Ask about the fee to be paid to the mediator and what is covered by the fee. Also, ask whether you or your lawyer will be paying the mediation fee. This should be stated in your fee agreement.
- Ask whether you may bring a family member or friend to the mediation. This is not typically allowed by most mediators without the consent of all parties.
- Be prepared to compromise. A good agreement requires compromise while still preserving your main goals.
Following these simple steps will make both you and your lawyer better prepared for mediation. The information and materials gathered for mediation can also reduce the time needed for trial preparation if the case does not settle.
Prepare for Your Mediation
David Scott is a family law attorney with over 22 years of experience and is a Rule 31 Listed Gen. Civil/Family Mediator. Contact David Scott or Call (615) 896-7656 today to schedule a free consultation for your family law matter or to schedule a mediation.