Headline-grabbing divorce cases tend to involve celebrities and bitter and protracted courtroom battles over property, children or support. Be that as it may, more Tennessee divorce disputes are settled through the mediation process each year than by judges or juries.
This is partly due to the fact that mediation is required for divorcing couples who have minor children, but it is also attributable to that fact that most judges recognize mediation's benefits and are ordering couples who don't have minor children to attend mediation before litigating their disputes as well. Having said all that, we're left with the question: "What does the mediation process actually involve?"
The process itself is fairly straightforward and begins with a brief orientation session during which the mediator (a neutral third party) will explain the format and ground rules while answering any preliminary questions you may have. One important point that will likely be covered here is that anything said to a mediator during the process remains private and confidential. This means the mediator cannot disclose anything you say to him or her in private to your spouse or their attorney, and it also means they can't disclose it in court if the dispute has to be resolved by litigation.
In any event, the parties separate after the initial orientation and the mediator then talks privately to each side about their positions from a practical perspective, as opposed to a legal one. After that, the divorcing spouses, their respective attorneys (if represented by counsel) and the mediator all sit down together and go through the various offers that have been made in an attempt to reach an agreement.
Lastly, while neither spouse is required to be represented an attorney during the mediation process, it is highly recommended if for no other reason than the fact mediators are not allowed to provide legal advice.
Source: GoLocalWorcester.com, "Benefits of Divorce Mediation During Tough Economic Times," Sept. 12, 2012