In Tennessee, mediation, also known as one method of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), is becoming extremely popular for various styles of cases. Although some people may be ordered to attend mediation as part of a divorce or child custody case, these are not the only styles of cases fit for mediation. Consequently, Batson Nolan PLC has a team of mediation lawyers equipped to mediate cases involving:
- Medical and professional negligence;
- Consumer law;
- Insurance law;
- Family law;
- Commercial disputes;
- Accident and personal injury law; and
- Employment law.
As experienced lawyers who practice in several different areas of law, we can help you reach a resolution based on the desires of both parties. Contact us today.
What Is Mediation?
Mediation is an informal meeting intended to assist the parties to a conflict in resolving their case before trial—thereby avoiding the need for trial. A neutral and impartial mediator conducts mediation. The mediator’s role is to act like a referee to help both parties talk out their issues. Note that a mediator is not a judge or arbitrator. Although the process of mediation may seem official, decisions made during mediation are not always or immediately binding. A judge may choose to forego any agreement made during mediation, although this is extremely rare. Additionally, mediation is a confidential process. All discussions occurring during mediation cannot be later used in court.
What to Expect During Mediation
The mediator usually conducts mediation with both parties facing each other at a table. Both parties and their lawyers have the opportunity to present their side of the case before the neutral mediator. Once the mediator gets a clear understanding of each party’s position, the mediator will suggest several solutions to anything at issue and help the parties explore those solutions. The mediator may meet with each party individually if the situation so requires. This gives both parties the opportunity to freely discuss their concerns or frustrations without the other party present. The mediator meets with both parties to discuss their sides. Then the mediator will typically work with each side independently or together to try to bridge any gaps and reach mutually acceptable solutions. The hope is that, in the end, the parties will reach an agreement. If an agreement is reached, the mediator typically drafts the agreement and has both parties sign it with the approval of their lawyer.
Benefits of Mediation
Mediation is one of the most informal processes involved in lawsuits, and this informality gives it a positive reputation. Benefits of mediation include the following:
- Mediation is private and confidential—which precludes either party from sharing information discussed during the mediation.
- Decisions on the case and its resolution rest with both interested parties—not a judge who doesn’t really know the parties involved.
- Mediation helps to avoid a potentially costly trial and further attorney’s fees.
- Mediation is voluntary, which means you may terminate mediation at any time during the process and opt to take outstanding issues to trial.
- Mediation encourages problem-solving and cooperation between litigants.
Regardless of the outcome, at the end of the mediation, you and your attorney will know that you tried to resolve the case amicably. Also, you’ll likely have a better understanding of the perspective of the opposing side as your case moves forward.
Mediation vs. Arbitration
People are often confused by the difference between mediation and arbitration. Although the two processes are similar, they produce very different results. A mediator is neutral and is there strictly to help both parties reach a mutually agreed-upon resolution. An arbitrator, however, acts in a role much more similar to a judge. Mediation is non-binding, and you can walk away from the table at any time. But decisions reached by an arbitrator are binding and final.
During the arbitration, both parties present their cases to the arbitrator. The arbitrator uses the evidence presented by both parties to reach a conclusion. The arbitrator decides the case, and that decision is binding. This decision is not appealable like a judge’s decision usually is.
However, arbitration has its own benefits. Arbitration is also a great alternative for parties seeking to forego the cost that comes with a trial. It takes far less time to conduct arbitration than a trial. Discussions from arbitration are usually kept confidential. Further, once the arbitrator reaches a decision on your case, the case is resolved, and there is no need to go back to court on any issue.
What Is Rule 31 Mediation?
Parties that require mediation may often hear about Rule 31 but be unsure of its significance. Generally, Rule 31 mediation refers to requirements and restrictions regarding mediation handed down by the Supreme Court of Tennessee. Rule 31 mediation complies with all the necessary requirements and restrictions.
Although our office handles mediation for many types of cases, there is only one type of case which requires your attendance at mediation. Tennessee requires that all parties in divorce actions attend mediation unless there is an exception. Although this may seem daunting or unnecessary, mediation is proven to help to divorce litigants reach an amicable resolution. Oftentimes, the issues involved in the case are straightforward, although reaching a solution may take some creativity. Divorce mediation is conducted in a similar fashion as any other mediation. There is no difference besides perhaps the emotion that naturally comes with restructuring an entire family unit.
Realistically, mediation can last as long or as short as either party wants. It is good to go into mediation anticipating what could happen, so you prepare yourself. Let’s look at some tips for mediation success.
- Come to mediation well-rested. Mediation can run for hours at a time, and you do not want to feel forced to reach a settlement just because you feel physically exhausted.
- Bring a snack and drink if you typically get hungry after a few hours.
- Clear your mind before mediation so that you can focus your attention on all of the issues presented.
- Avoid fixating on the potential that your case will be resolved at mediation. Just go knowing what you want, but with a mind that is open to compromise.
- Try to get clear on what you want out of your mediation—think about what issues are a priority to you and which you are willing to compromise on.
Remember that going into mediation is for your benefit. If you have an attorney, they are there to help advocate for you.
Batson Nolan PLC Brentwood Mediation Attorneys
Our office has three attorneys that are approved by the Supreme Court of Tennessee Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission and are listed as Rule 31 mediators in the field of general civil mediation. Daniel Mark Nolan has also been approved by the Supreme Court of Tennessee Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission in the field of family mediation. If you need a mediator to help you find a resolution for issues in your case, call Batson Nolan PLC, and one of our experienced Rule 31 mediators will be happy to help.