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Laurie W. Hall has been a Rule 31 Family Law Mediator since 2011 and has successfully mediated dozens of family law disputes.

Mediation a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in which a “third party neutral,” the mediator, attempts to help parties reach resolution of their disputes.  The term “third party neutral” means that the mediator is not a party to the dispute or an attorney for any party to the dispute and is neutral–meaning that the mediator does not advocate for either party’s position and cannot provide legal advice. Mediation is privileged- meaning that what is said in mediation by the mediator, the parties, or their attorneys cannot be used in court and the mediator cannot be called as a witness in court. The goal of mediation is for the parties to reach a resolution, resulting in an agreed consent order that then may be entered with the Court.

Why mediate?

Mediation is required in Tennessee in divorces with minor children. This requirement applies not only to the divorcing parents, but for post-divorce matters resulting in a modification to an existing Permanent Parenting Plan Order. Additionally, courts have begun requiring parents to mediate custody and visitation matters for non-married parents.

Mediation helps keep decisions about what is best for children in the hands of the parents, instead of lawyers or judges who do not know the family. This gives the parents more control over the case and the outcome.

Mediation helps the parties think realistically about what might happen if the case goes to trial and the judge decides the contested issues.  A mediator can also help the parties think creatively about resolutions to their disputes in order to achieve “win-win” results in which both parties are better off then they might be if they let a judge decide the issues. Litigation is emotionally and physically stressful- not to mention very expensive.  Trials often lead to further litigation, such as post-trial motions, or appeals. Agreed orders result in greater harmony and less litigation over the long haul.