Divorce Mediation Process Overview
So much feels unknown when parties make the difficult decision to divorce, using the mediation process. This page is designed to give a brief overview of how mediation works at our offices:
Initial Contact – Potential mediation clients can either call (615-767-5900) or email our offices. Our office manager/ paralegal will schedule an appointment for an initial no-obligation consultation for both parties to come to our Brentwood TN office, conveniently located between Nashville and Franklin directly off of I-65.
Initial Consultation – This is the initial meeting where both parties meet with Mr. Papa to discuss the mediation process in detail as well as other process options that are available to them to resolve their divorce. If the parties think they could benefit from including the services of a therapist mediator and/or a financial expert mediator in Co-Mediation Mr. Papa discusses that option as well. If the parties decide to proceed with mediation, they sign a written Agreement to Mediate at the end of the consultation. Mr. Papa discusses next steps and they schedule subsequent mediation session(s).
Information Gathering – Before we ask any of our mediation clients to make a settlement decision in their divorce, we want to be sure they fully understand the contents of the marital estate, including the values of all assets and all debts, if any. To that end, Mr. Papa provides the parties with a detailed list of all of the information they need to gather before the first mediation session. Sometimes that process includes having a house appraised or working with other third parties (such as a CPA or business valuator) to gather all of the information needed to craft a fair settlement for both parties.
Substantive Mediation Sessions – Once all of the groundwork is laid, the parties work with Mr. Papa in mediation sessions where he facilitates agreements between them on all of the issues that need to be addressed in their case. Most sessions last two hours each but that can vary based on the clients’ particular needs and other variables. If the parties have children together, we typically negotiate a Permanent Parenting Plan in the first session, including a residential schedule, allocation of holiday time, decision-making authority, and all financial aspects related to the children, including child support. In the subsequent session(s) we work on fairly and equitably dividing all of the marital assets and debts. Finally, if the case is a case that includes alimony/ spousal support, that issue is typically addressed last. The total number of sessions depends on how many and how complicated the issues are to be addressed in the divorce, as well as how fast the parties are able to agree to settlement terms. Some clients are able to settle their divorce in one or two sessions, but many take at least three sessions to cover all of the issues.
Finalizing Settlement Documents – Once an agreement has been reached on all of the issues in the case, Mr. Papa will draft a Permanent Parenting Plan, Joint Statement of Assets and Liabilities, and a Marital Dissolution Agreement. Because in Tennessee mediators cannot give legal advice to their mediation clients, the parties are always free to run the draft settlement documents by an attorney (and/or CPA and/or financial advisor) before they sign anything. Once the parties have consulted with any other professionals with whom they wish to consult, they are free to sign the mediated documents and file them with the Court to be used as the basis for an uncontested divorce on the ground of irreconcilable differences.
Contact our office at 615-767-5900 to schedule an initial consultation to talk about how mediation can help you navigate your family law dispute.