Mediation and Arbitration

The Nashville mediators at MTR Family Law, PLLC can help divorce couples resolve as many issues as possible before lengthy proceedings are necessary. Our attorneys are dedicated to making sure all parties reach agreements with which they are comfortable moving forward.

Mediation is a non-adversarial approach to a dissolution of marriage proceeding. Through the process of mediation, you will have the opportunity to negotiate a settlement rather than have one imposed on you by the Court or an attorney. Under such circumstances, a dissolution of marriage proceeding is not considered a win-or-lose situation. A successful mediation proceeding requires recognition that each must consider the position of the other, each must be willing to compromise, and neither should have to win-or-lose by the outcome. The process of mediation is mutual, and the goal is a settlement that is acceptable to both parties.

Mediation is a voluntary, informal process where a trained mediator helps the parties in a dispute to reach an agreement. The mediator tries to facilitate an agreement but does not force either party to agree. In short, both parties should make a good-faith attempt to agree on issues of the marriage, including arrangements for children or property division, for example. Neither party, however, should feel that the “agreement” was forced upon him/her. If it is not possible to reach an agreement, another form of resolution, such as a trial, is used.

Who is the Mediator?

The mediator is not a judge and does not make a decision or impose a solution on the dispute. Instead, the mediator helps those involved in the dispute talk to each other, thereby allowing them to resolve the dispute themselves. The mediator is a neutral facilitator for settlement discussions. The mediator, often a lawyer, has undergone specialized training and has experience in resolving disputes.

Mediation can run from several hours to a day or even weeks. The duration depends upon the progress, the cooperative spirit (or lack of it) exhibited by the parties, the desires of the parties to keep trying, and many other factors.

What is Arbitration?

Arbitration is a truncated procedure to avoid lengthy court procedures. The parties choose a certified arbitrator who will hear the matter and be paid on an hourly basis. The arbitrator will listen to testimony by the parties as well as their experts, review all exhibits, and make a prompt decision, which, by agreement, may become a court order. Binding arbitration is non-appealable and will end the matter far more inexpensively and faster than proceeding through court hearings. On the other hand, the process can be non-binding and will not result in a court order if the parties do not agree.

What is Collaborative Law?

The collaborative law process is a non-adversarial, non-litigious, and problem-solving approach to resolve a divorce or other family law matter. The main feature of this process is that the parties contractually agree from the onset that they will not seek Court intervention, but if either party changes his/her mind and seeks Court intervention, both parties’ attorneys must withdraw and cannot represent either party in the litigation. In this process, each party is represented by an attorney who is trained in the process. While each party’s attorney is his/her respective client’s advocate, the attorneys will work cooperatively together and with both clients to reach an agreement. Another main feature of this process is that there are allied professionals including, but not limited to, mental health counselors, child advocates (financial neutrals), experts and consultants who help to enhance the process to reach an agreement.

What is Our Lawyers’ Role in Mediation?

We encourage lawyer participation in the mediation process. We will meet with you before the mediation session starts to discuss legal rights. We will prepare a packet of information for the mediator with the information he or she needs to understand our position in the lawsuit. Often lawyers are present throughout the process. If lawyers are not present, we should receive reports and updates from you as the mediation progresses. This helps to continue to advise you of the legal ramifications of any agreements you seek to reach.

As with every issue and factor in a marital dissolution, each case progresses differently through mediation, and each requires specialized and sophisticated responses to the process. We are at your service at any time to discuss the progress of your mediation, to suggest ways in which it might be more productive, and, in the appropriate circumstances, to intervene to bring an end to fruitless mediation procedures.

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