Are there alternative approaches to divorce that might save time, expense and emotional upset?
One alternative approach might be mediation. Tennessee state courts allow for mediation, sometimes called alternative dispute resolution, pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 31. A neutral mediator will propose solutions to both parties for the material issues in a divorce, including property division, liability for marital debts, support, and child custody, if applicable. The process typically involves the mediator meeting with the parties separately and jointly, and reducing into writing any agreements that are reached.
Since the court is not involved in the mediation process, an individual may have concerns about fairness, about being pressured into agreements, or simply being able to spot all of the important issues. Similarly, since mediators are bound to neutrality, they are not supposed to counsel either party on the fairness or reasonableness of proposed agreements. Fortunately, Rule 31 permits each party to bring their attorneys to mediation.
Our divorce and family law firm is familiar with the mediation process. In fact, courts typically require mediation when parents are in a child custody dispute, and need to come to an agreement on a parenting plan. Yet the collaborative spirit of mediation can also be done informally, without having to officially go through divorce mediation. Our attorneys have experience in crafting settlement agreements with the other party in divorce, and then presenting those agreements to the court for final approval. We approach divorce discussions with an eye to efficiency and minimizing court involvement.
Source: Tennessee State Courts, “Rule 31: Alternative Dispute Resolution,” updated 2015, Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts