Mediation is an opportunity to make the best of a bad situation. In Tennessee, almost all divorces are required to attend mediation. Mediation is an avenue to calm the parties, save attorney fees, and allows the parties to make decisions regarding parenting and property division, which are unique to each family, rather than leaving those decisions in the hands of the court.
The legal system is an adversarial one. When a matter goes to trial, the parties speak through their attorneys to a judge. The judge then interprets the facts admitted into evidence, in light of relevant law, and makes decisions which will affect the parties’ lives, their children, and their property. In mediation, the parties speak with the mediator and their attorneys in an attempt to facilitate resolution. Overall anxiety is lessened when the parties are allowed to come to a decision on the issues themselves rather than abdicating this role to the court.
When custody issues go to trial, each side is fighting over parenting time by accusing the other parent of bad acts and poor parenting. At the end of a divorce, by trial or settlement, the court is going to tell the parties to go forward and co-parent. While co-parenting is best for the children, the ability to successfully co-parent is reduced by waging character warfare in the public record, which is what most parenting litigation is. Successful post-divorce parenting is more likely to happen when mediation is successful. In successful mediation the parties exercise the skills of co-parenting by making joint decisions about their children rather than fighting over their children.
Trial is an expensive process. There are weeks, if not months, of preparation followed by days, if not weeks, of trial. During these weeks of preparation and trial time, the attorneys and staff for both parties’ will be concentrated on this one divorce case. All of the fees are coming out of the same pot, the marital estate. It is in the parties’ best interest to divide a larger marital estate rather than divide a depleted one after trial fees.
In order to have successful mediation, you need three things from your attorney: 1) understanding of your goals, 2) realistic advice, and 3) preparation.
Some attorneys resort to making unwarranted promises of riches and revenge in order to obtain divorce clients. This practice promotes litigation since it is nearly impossible to settle a case with unrealistic expectations. When divorce attorneys provide sound advice, the clients have the basis necessary to accurately address problems and resolve their case.
Many attorneys perform little to no advance work for mediation. Rather than working with you to identify and divide the marital estate and develop a workable Parenting Plan, they simply appear at mediation and begin to formulate offers on the fly. Unprepared attorneys can stall or, in some cases, derail mediation. Prepared attorneys are focused on getting the snowball of settlement rolling and keeping it rolling.
When our office prepares for mediation, we prepare as if going to trial. We often start with a notebook. The notebook contains information such as fault facts, the parties’ income, and assets. We then include a Marital Balance Sheet that sets out the assets showing marital or separate property, the values thereof, as well as the proposed distribution and other information as appropriate. We then follow with a Proposed Parenting Plan and a Marital Dissolution Agreement. Some lawyers bring a laptop to mediation. We bring a laptop and portable printer because it is our desire to negotiate the documents as we go along, so by the end of the day, if the case is settled, we have the documents ready for the parties to sign. Just like trial, things do not always go as envisioned. Mediation does not have to be completed in a day, but we have found better preparation tends to produce better results in mediation, just like in trial.
Not only are our attorneys qualified to represent clients in mediation, but Nick Rice is also a Rule 31 certified mediator. He brings the same attention to detail and passion for results when serving as a mediator that he does when serving as a litigator.
Articles Regarding Mediation Nick Rice Believes is Important to Know
Mediation is an important part of divorce and family law to Nick Rice. Below is an article regarding the psychological aspect of mediation he found interesting.
Contact Nick for mediation at (901) 526-6701, or email firstname.lastname@example.org