What is mediation and do I have to participate in it?
Tennessee Family Law Questions & Answers · 10 minutes ·

What is mediation and do I have to participate in it?

Mediation is a settlement process to help you and your spouse try and resolve the issues involved in your divorce case.  The issues mediated can include child custody and parenting time issues if children are involved, alimony and property division, including who will receive what property and who will be responsible for which bills.  Mediation is an informal process usually conducted around a conference room table.  It is in a casual setting.

The mediator is not a judge and does not make a decision or impose his or her will on the parties but attempts to find a solution to the dispute.  At the mediation session, each person involved in the dispute presents a summary of his or her point of view.  If you have an attorney, he or she will usually go with you to the mediation session.  The mediator will usually meet with everyone together at the beginning and then meet individually with each side.  This offers participants the opportunity to communicate to the mediator their real interests in the dispute as well as to vent anger or frustrations outside the presence of the opposing side.  The mediator will work with each person until an agreement is reached or an impasse occurs.  If an agreement is reached, is should be put in writing and signed by the parties.

Although anyone with a law license can mediate a case, most mediators go through extensive training and become certified by the Tennessee Supreme Court as Rule 31 Certified Mediators.  In addition, Rule 31 Certified Mediators must continue to receive training and education past the date of certification.  Not all certified mediators are attorneys. 

Mediators generally range in price from $40.00 per hour on the low end, all the way up to $400.00 per hour and even more.  Usually the cost is split equally between the parties, although in certain cases the court will require the costs be borne by the party with more resources.  Not only do the mediators charge for their time, but the attorneys participating in the mediation charge their clients their usual hourly rate. 

The best way to avoid the expense involved in mediation is to settle all of the issues in your divorce or custody case.  This can be done prior to or after filing the case by sitting down with the other party and working out an agreement that works for both of you. 

Another alternative is to have your attorney schedule a settlement conference with the other attorney.  Such a conference can take place in the office of one of the attorneys and is similar to mediation except without the mediator.  No matter which option you choose, it is always best to settle your case prior to turning all the decisions over to a judge.


Mediation Overview

Find a Mediator

Mediation FAQ

Parent’s Guide to Mediation

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