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Mediation for solving custody, visitation issues -- Part II

The previous post on our blog discussed some of the basics regarding court-ordered child custody and visitation rights dispute mediation in Tennessee. Generally, the court orders such mediation to ensure that a family law dispute is resolved peacefully and privately. However, certain situations may lead a parent to become apprehensive about the session. For example, a domestic violence victim may feel insecure; however, in such cases, the courts have provisions that are meant to protect those people who feel threatened.

However, there may be some people who do not attend child custody and visitation rights mediation sessions although they may not have a justifiable reason. In such cases, the court will consider the absence as violation of a court order. In certain cases, the court may also consider the absence a major factor in determining the final child custody and visitation arrangement or parenting plan. However, as mentioned in the previous post, victims of domestic violence may choose to avoid mediation.

A major advantage of mediation is that it offers couples the opportunity to resolve other family-related disputes in addition to developing a parenting plan. Those issues may be related to various aspects of the divorce, such as support obligations and property division. Once a couple is able to resolve all of the disputes and reach an agreement, the lawyers will prepare a draft of the agreement, which is filed in court. In the absence of attorneys, parents sign a Memorandum of Understanding.

It may happen that parents are unable to agree about the child custody and visitation arrangement. In such cases, a partial plan needs to be submitted to the court with details of the issues on which the parents disagreed. If everything is in order, the judge will approve the points on which the parents agreed and incorporate those points into the permanent parenting plan. For the points where the parents disagreed, the court will either make a decision or hold a Settlement Conference to resolve the remaining issues.

Source: Tennessee State Courts, "Parents' Questions," Accessed on May 8, 2015

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