One way we assist families in Nashville and the surrounding areas with their divorce is by having Attorney-Mediator Benjamin Papa serve as a neutral third party mediator for the parties. Mediation is a process that, when used effectively, creates space for parties to make better, more rational decisions for themselves regarding their children, finances, and other issues rather than sending proposals and counter-proposals back and forth, which is often inefficient and ripe for conflict and confusion. For families already in the midst of litigation who are not making progress, or who feel like they are needlessly in a contentious situation, mediation is often a good solution to get past whatever logjams are preventing settlement. Mediation is also a good option for clients who wish to come into the office together to work on a settlement in a neutral, balanced setting.
Mr. Papa has been listed by the Tennessee Supreme Court as a Rule 31 Mediator for family cases since 2003, including cases that involve domestic violence since 2006. His academic training in psychology from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, as well as his experience in the courtroom as a family law litigator across Middle Tennessee make him especially well prepared to assist mediation clients in reaching fair settlements without the stress, expense, and loss of control associated with litigation.
Mr. Papa also regularly works with other credentialed mediators who are not lawyers but who have other expertise the parties need to effectively settle their case, including financial and mental health professionals. For more information on co-mediation, click here.
In Tennessee, while mediators are free to give legal information to the parties for whom they are mediating, mediators are prohibited from giving strategic legal advice to either party for whom they are mediating and also from doing legal work for any party for whom they have mediated. Parties who mediate their divorce or other family law issue with Mr. Papa always have the option of running the decisions they make in mediation by independent counsel before they sign any divorce settlement document. Alternatively, the parties have the option of taking the mediated agreement and working directly with the court system to file and finalize their divorce without hiring their own attorneys as a way to control costs. For settlement process options we offer at Papa & Roberts, PLLC that involve Mr. Papa representing one of the parties to the divorce, please see our Traditional Divorce Settlement page.
The style of mediation Mr. Papa typically uses is called facilitative, meaning that he tries to work creatively with the parties and their attorneys, if they have them, to come up with solutions rather than treating the parties as if they are combatants in a zero sum game battle. Under the facilitative model of mediation, the mediator assesses the parties’ ability to communicate, the issues on the table to be resolved, and the general level of conflict in the case before deciding how best to structure the mediation. For example, mediation can involve keeping parties in separate rooms the entire mediation with the mediator passing messages back and forth between the parties, or the process can include time when the parties are in the same room together with their mediator (and attorneys if present) trying to work through one or more issues.
Mr. Papa does not take a “cookie cutter” approach to mediation where he always keeps the parties in separate rooms regardless of the parties’ personalities or level of conflict. Similarly, he does not always keep the parties in the same room, especially if tensions are running very high. Instead, he consults with the parties and their lawyers to figure out what the most efficient and effective process will be to achieve a durable agreement, including switching gears in the middle of the case as dynamics shift in the negotiations. For more information about the divorce mediation process, click here.
Contact our office at 615-767-5900 for more specific information about how mediation might be a useful solution for your family law dispute.