Real life is much different than the dramas so many of us see played out on television, where excitement and tension build until the final verdict is returned by the judge, where perfect justice is often meted out against the wrongdoer, and where cases are all wrapped up in an hour or two. No, real justice is sometimes less than perfect. The court may hear just portions of the story and evidence. Even the best attorneys have difficulty presenting the whole story-the only ones who know the whole story are those who’ve lived through it.
Divorces are much like that. Couples who have invested years of their lives in their marriage. Children, property, and debt area part of those common experiences, so who better than the husband and wife to decide how everything is divided. Frequently, though, the emotionally charge nature of the situation can have both parties finding it difficult to settle their differences.
For that reason, mediation is required in Tennessee in most cases before a case reaches the courtroom unless it is waived by the Judge for specific reasons. The local judges in the 17th Judicial District rarely waive mediation. Through mediation, both parties, with the help of a mediator, work toward resolving their differences, thereby avoiding the delay and expense of lengthy litigation, and because mediation is a confidential process, it is one of the few times that the couple can speak freely to each other.
Even though mediation is required in most divorces, the husband and wife are not required to settle anything – the whole process is in their hands. One side of the divorcing couple may decide that the court should determine the unresolved issues and end the mediation. Regardless, the law expects that a good faith attempt be made by both spouses. If mediation isn’t successful, the spouses can always look forward to courtroom drama.
Jonathan C. Brown, Attorney at Law
101 Main Ave. S., Fayetteville, Tenn.