In most civil law cases, the parties involved have some degree of dispute. Solving all of these disputes doesn’t always have to occur in courtrooms. Instead, some of the conflicts are solved outside of court through mediation.
The Tennessee Courts System defines mediation as “an informal process where the mediator helps people with a dispute to reach an agreement. The mediation process identifies important issues, clarifies misunderstandings, explores solutions, and negotiates settlement.”
Mediation Is Often Used in Divorce Cases
Although mediation can be used for just about any civil law case, it’s most commonly used in divorce cases. In fact, when divorces are contested in Tennessee, mediation is required by law.
In Tennessee, mediators are often lawyers who have received special training in mediating certain types of cases. Mediators aren’t judges and they aren’t favorable or partial to either divorcing spouse. Their only goal is for both sides to come to an agreement before the case proceeds to the next steps.
What Happens During Mediation in a Divorce Case?
Mediation typically occurs at the office of the mediator assigned to the case. Because mediation often occurs during contested divorces, mediators often direct the divorcing spouses to sit in separate rooms along with their attorneys. The mediators then visit with each spouse separately with the goal of reaching agreements on certain issues, including the division of assets, child support, child custody, and more.
If negotiations are successful between both divorcing spouses and an agreement can be reached, the mediator will have both parties sign binding written agreements before the mediation process concludes.
Does Mediation Occur for Other Types of Cases?
Yes. Mediation can be and often is used for civil law cases other than divorce and family law cases, including:
- Contract disputes
- Neighbor disputes (including boundary line disputes)
- Landlord/renter disputes
- Construction and real estate disputes
- Professional negligence disputes (including disputes with attorneys, engineers, contractors, CPAs, and more)
Like mediation in divorce cases, mediation in civil law cases is all about reaching initial agreements on certain important issues before the legal process moves forward. Mediation isn’t always required, but it can be ordered by a judge with or without the consent of the involved parties when deemed necessary or beneficial.
What Should I Do to Prepare for Mediation?
Unlike a trial in a courtroom, mediation is a far more relaxed affair. Mediators are impartial and want both divorcing spouses to feel comfortable so they can reach an agreement as quickly and easily as possible.
Your lawyer will help you prepare for mediation, but there are also a few other important tips to keep in mind before the process begins:
- Prepare for a long day.
Mediation usually lasts about 4 hours, but can take all day to complete. Get plenty of sleep before the mediation begins and bring snacks, medication, and any other essentials you will need while you’re at the mediator’s office.
- Don’t be in a hurry to end the mediation process.
In addition to being prepared for a long day, you shouldn’t simply accept the other side’s proposals to speed up the process. Mediation is a chance to stand up for your rights and what you believe you deserve, and as with any negotiation, that often requires plenty of back-and-forth.
- Relax and be as non-emotional as possible.
Mediation is your chance to start the divorce process off on the right foot. And while tensions and emotions may be running high, it’s important to stay cool, calm, and collected while negotiations are occurring. Stick to your plan and consult your attorney for advice whenever you need it.
We Can Help You with Every Step of Your Civil or Family Law Case
Mediation is an important part of both divorce and civil law cases, but it isn’t the only part where people need professional and experienced help. At Ralls & Wooten, our Tennessee family law and civil law attorneys have years of experience assisting our clients through many different types of civil matters, both before, during, and after mediation.