What Is Mediation?
Basic Mediation Model
Mediation is a process of conflict resolution in which an impartial third party assists persons in dispute make informed decisions in an effort to resolve their differences. In our often litigious society, alternative dispute resolution, which lessens the burden of the court system, appears to be a viable option to the adversarial process. The following is an explanation of the different aspects of the process.
Refers to the specific phases which are described to the persons involved and through which the mediator will guide the participants in an effort to help them achieve resolution. The process is goal-oriented in that the purpose is to reach an agreement which promotes a sense of respect, fairness, privacy, mutual concern, and a genuine understanding of collaborative conflict resolution.
Impartial Third Party
Mediation involves a third person who is impartial regarding the persons and the issues. The role of the third person is clearly defined; that role with its commensurate duties is explained to the participants at the outset of the process. The principal concerns of the neutral third party is to direct the flow of the mediation, de-escalate hostilities, and create a climate in which a cooperative agreement can evolve.
Mediation encourages both parties to base their decisions on full disclosure of information concerning the relevant issues. The ground rules delineate the requirements of the process, including not only disclosure of necessary information, but respect for one another, honesty and confidentiality. Honest discussion by both parties is key to the informed decision making process.
Mediation focuses on present and future concerns rather than past grievances. Although discussion of past issues is necessary to diffuse tension, looking to the future allows for discussion and mutual needs and interests. Positional issues only serve to further polarize the parties; thus moving parties off of their positional stance is a major role of the mediator.
Areas For Mediation
One of the arenas for mediation is as an alternative to an adjudicated divorce. In most divorces, the husband and wife retain separate attorneys who utilize the adversarial process to achieve the goals of their clients. Although some divorces must be litigated, the process often inhibits a long term agreement, because of the psychological and financial damage incurred by the parties. The resentment resulting from this process often forces the parties to resist and often ignore the terms of the court ordered agreement or order. Rarely are both parties satisfied, and often the children of the marriage suffer because of the animosity.
The mediation process allows the parties to come together, with or without their attorney's assistance, to explore the options available to them. While the sessions are not always congenial, the participants learn that if they search for common ground and mutually agreeable resolutions, much of the anger is quelled. By making decisions together, it often becomes clear to the parties that they can create more acceptable parenting plans and property and support agreements than an arbitrary court ruling. It should be noted that during the process the parties attorneys are encouraged to review any agreements, and will review the final agreement before it is presented to the court.
Mediation will not cure the psychological scars that come with the divorce process, but it will minimize the damage and will allow the parties to reach resolution rather than settlement. In 1988, the New Hampshire Mediation program studied a group of divorced couples, half of whom had received traditional divorces and half of whom had mediated agreements.
The findings revealed that the mediated divorces produced more stable agreements, more generous visitation, significantly better payment records, and better relations with the former spouse. (Lovenheim, 1989, pp. 155-156).
Many communities use mediation in resolving neighborhood disputes, school conflicts, victim/offender disputes and landlord/tenant problems. Family disputes which do not involve divorce and do not require therapy can benefit from mediation. Examples include parent-child, sibling rivalry, elder parent decisions, and estate settlements. Schools employ mediation as an alternative to traditional disciplinary methods. Students are trained as peer mediators to handle the conflicts and if necessary- a trained adult is brought in to assist. Environmental mediation, common in Canada, is now finding its place in the United States. Companies have introduced mediation as a method of resolving employer/employee disputes, organizational conflict and group facilitation.
Types Of Mediation
Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 31 Family Mediation Training is designed to prepare mediators to participate in court-approved mediation programs and to take court referred mediation cases. This program is designed to teach mediators to facilitate communication which assists parties in identifying issues and reaching mutually acceptable agreements.
Mediation is based on principles of communication, negotiation, facilitation and problem-solving. It emphasizes the needs and interests of participants, fairness, and procedural flexibility. Privacy, confidentiality, full disclosure and self-determination are key to the mediation process. Integrity, impartiality, and professional competence are essential qualifications of any mediator. A mediator is obligated under Rule 31 to acquire knowledge and training in the mediation process, including understanding of appropriate professional ethics, standards and responsibilities.
The Tennessee legislature has passed and the Governor has signed the long sought parenting plan legislation. We believe this new law will have an enormous positive impact on children and reduce the adversarial negative impact of divorce. It became effective January 1, 2001. Through this program the parties are able to develop a parenting plan which takes into account their personal schedules, their children's needs and other factors individual to them. Mediation offers creative options to the boilerplate schedules ordered by the court. Initial results in at least one county show that nearly 70% of the participants have been able to reach agreement through mediation, avoiding the emotional and financial costs of litigation.
Many states, including Florida, Texas and California mandate mediation in family divorce cases. Results have shown that mediated agreements make for long term agreements and less post divorce litigation. Personal and real property, support, and other financial issues can also be mediated. Litigation often causes the parties to become polarized and entrenched in their positions. Mediation finds common ground upon which the parties can work toward an agreement that results in a win-win outcome for the entire family.
The Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts recognizes that domestic violence training is a key element of Family Mediation Training. Jean Munroe also offers Domestic Violence Training as an advanced component of Family Mediation Training. The issues of violence are never mediated, only the issues of the divorce. Mediators are taught to recognize the sometimes hidden signs of domestic violence and to balance power to assist the victim in the mediation process. By statute, victims can have an advocate present during the mediation process. If mediation is determined inappropriate due to fears of the victim, he or she is referred back to the court and the appropriate community resources.
Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 31 Civil Mediation Training is designed to prepare mediators to participate in court-approved mediation programs. This program is designed to teach mediators to facilitate communication which assists parties in identifying issues and reaching mutually acceptable agreements.
Civil Mediation is based on principles of communication, negotiation, facilitation and problem-solving. It emphasizes the needs and interests of participants, fairness, procedural flexibility, privacy and confidentiality, full disclosure and self-determination. Integrity, impartiality and professional competence are essential qualifications of any mediator. A mediator is obligated under Rule 31 to acquire knowledge and training in the mediation process, including understanding of appropriate professional ethics, standards, and responsibilities.
Civil mediation focuses on disputes in employer-employee relations, construction and real estate contracts, business relations, sexual harassment claims, insurance claims, landlord-tenant issues, and any other matter that could be filled in civil courts. Civil mediation is an alternative to the grievance process in labor disputes. Mediation offers an additional option to arbitration which is often employed in labor disputes.
Civil mediation employs a group facilitation process which minimizes loss of productivity and builds long-term resolution and improved employer-employee relationships. In other types of cases, civil mediation is an alternative to litigation. Mediation is less expensive and can preserve ongoing business and professional relationships.
Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 31 requires training for both General Civil and Family court ordered mediation for attorneys and non-attorneys. The approved courses offered by Jean Munroe provide mediation trainees with the training requirements to be approved by the Tennessee Supreme Court for court ordered mediation under Rule 31.
Currently, we offer two types of approved mediation training:
Family Mediation Training
An intensive and comprehensive (46 hours) course for attorneys, psychologist, social workers and others who want to develop the skills for effective family - divorce mediation. The Family Mediation course includes family mediation techniques, economic issues, and the psychological impact of divorce on families. This mediation course also includes the required 6 hours of Tennessee Family Law and 2 hours of training on Rule 31.
In addition to the mediation training, mediators must be of good moral character, have a postgraduate degree or be a CPA or have ten years of experience as a family mediator (such as in a volunteer program); have 4 years of work experience in psychiatry, psychology, counseling, social work, education, law, or accounting.
General Civil Mediation Training
An intensive and comprehensive course for attorneys, personnel officers, educators, human resource directors, business and community leaders, insurance, construction and real estate representatives, governmental agencies and others who want to develop general civil mediation skills. This course meets for 5 days for a total of 40 hours and has been approved by the Tennessee Supreme Court for Rule 31 listing. The civil mediation course covers the mediation process, negotiation dynamics, Tennessee Civil Law, communication skills, mediation ethics and Rule 31 requirements. Additionally, role plays give the trainees an opportunity to put their new skills into practice.
To qualify as a Rule 31 listed civil mediator, mediators must be of good moral character, have a postgraduate degree plus 4 years of work experience or a baccalaureate degree and 6 years of work experience and complete a 40 hour approved training.
Continuing Legal Education Credit
Civil Mediation Training: 35 General, 5 Ethics Family Mediation Training: 41 General, 5 Ethics Domestic Violence Training: 10 General, 1 Dual
Training TypeCostCredit Hrs.General Civil Mediation$1,245*40
General Civil Crossover from Family $450** 16Family Mediation$1,445*46Family Crossover from Civil$950**30Specially Trained in Domestic Violence$395***12
*$100 discount if registering 30 days prior to training dates
**$50 discount if registering 30 days prior to training dates
***Call for discount if you volunteer with domestic violence programs.
Limited to ensure quality training.
Training Days and Times: Training days are usually 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
To reserve your space, please print the registration form and return it by mail or you may contact Jean Munroe by phone or email.
Registration and Cancellation Deadlines: 10 days prior to date that class starts.
Cancellation Fee Policy: A fee of $50.00 is charged if you cancel less than 10 days prior to the course start date. A full refund will be given if for some unforeseen reason JMA must cancel a training session.