Sunday, March 22, 2009


As a family law attorney in Chattanooga, Tennessee, I encounter people everyday who are struggling through the maze of a divorce. In almost every case, there is emotional and financial upheaval for both parties. Many people who are going through a divorce have ideas of how the process and outcome of a divorce should be. Often these ideas, both good and bad, could not be farther from reality.

In Tennessee, either the parties agree on how to divide up their property and parenting time, or a judge makes the decision(s) for them at a trial. Many people mistakenly believe that they will come out better in court than if they settle, but most of the time this is not the case.

The judge will not have the time to listen to all of the details of why one party deserves more or less than the other. The parties will also not have the opportunity to do anything more than answer the questions that are asked of them during the trial. The icing on the cake is that by trial time, both parties have now incurred substantially more attorney fees in order to get to this point.


There is a silver lining to this process however - mediation. In Tennessee, divorcing parties who cannot agree on how to divide their property and/or parenting time, are required to go to mediation before the court will make any final decisions in the matter.

As a Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 31 Listed Family Mediator, it is my passion to help divorcing parties prevent unnecessary cost, time delays and emotional turmoil of having to go through divorce litigation.

Mediation is a process in which a neutral mediator facilitates communication and negotiation between the divorcing parties and their attorneys with the goal of arriving at a mutually agreeable decision on the specific issues of the parties.

Often the mediator will be an attorney and will have significant background and experience to understand the divorce process, however, the mediator should not provide legal advice or explanations of the law. Therefore, generally each party has an attorney present so that they can be fully informed of their rights and ideally able to appropriately weigh the options of having a trial or compromising to get to a settlement.

The primary goal of mediation should be to reach a settlement of the issues. In order to do this, each party and their attorney needs to come ready to work towards exchanging information, negotiating and compromising in the interest of a resolution that day.

The mediation agreement will be signed by all the parties and their attorneys and incorporated into the Final Decree of Divorce that will be signed by the Judge.