COURTS USING MEDIATION IN KNOX COUNTY, TENNESSEE
In 1992, Knox County General Sessions Court, Civil Division, started a “day of court mediation” program, the first of its kind in Tennessee. In collaboration with the UT College of Law Mediation Clinic, Professor Grayfred Gray (now Professor Emeritus) and Sessions Court Judicial Clerk, Robert Swan, worked with the Sessions judges to create easy-to-use mediation agreement forms. They then developed a mediation model, and wrote a training manual for volunteers to use while being trained to be volunteer co-mediators in the Civil Sessions Day of Court Program. Professor Gray taught and supervised his mediation clinic students at the law school to be co-mediators in this program, working together with volunteer community mediators previously trained to do pro bono divorce mediation. The program, folded into CMC when it was incorporated in 1994, is still going strong, mediating disputes between self-represented parties. Their disputes involve landlord-tenant matters, neighborhood issues, consumer and goods-and-services disputes, debtor-creditor disputes, cases involving animals, and cases dividing “stuff” when people who have not married are arguing over jointly owned property and assets and joint debts.
Cases are screened by the District Attorney’s office and the referral sent to CMC to further screen for appropriate and safe dispute resolution process. Mediation done with cases where a defendant has been charged with a crime use a process called Victim Offender Reconciliation Process (VORP). It is a restorative justice process, designed and structured to provide a voice to the victim of the crime, and will only be used if requested by the victim. There is no mediation of questions of guilt or innocence, and no argument over the charge itself; the offender has been found guilty or agreed to plead guilty. The questions to be discussed are about restitution, apology, community service, and resolving other issues in which the victim and offender are involved. Occasionally, a community has been harmed—a church vandalized, a neighborhood made to feel insulted or unsafe through graffiti or theft, or an episode of racial harrassment makes the whole community feel denigrated. Victims of crime may request this process or the DA’s office or judge may suggest it.
There are several mediation centers in Tennessee who offer these services, county by county. Most are offered in Juvenile Court.
PARENTING EDUCATION CLASSES
The 4-hr Parenting Education Seminar (PES) is the minimum requirement under Tennessee law. Knox County Chancery Court, as well as most of the divorce courts in counties surrounding Knox, require the 4-hr PES class. Parents will receive a certificate of completion which must be filed with the court clerk or given to the judge.
The 12-hour PES is required and approved by Judge McMillan in Knox County 4th Circuit Court. The course is taught in four 3-hr sessions, one session per week,. Parents take separate classes, and the class sessions must be taken in person. Parents will receive a certificate of completion which must be filed with the court clerk or given to the judge.
Since Knox County residents can file their divorce in either Fourth Circuit Court or Chancery Court, please check with your attorney or the court clerk to make sure that the course you take is approved by the court in which you’ve filed for your divorce. The courts in Knox County normally require in-person PES classes, unless there are extenuating circumstances.
This class is offered in Knox County Juvenile Court as a pre-requisite for visitation and custody mediation with CMC. The course is designed especially for never-married co-parents who have filed a petition for visitation or custody with the Court. Parents take separate classes once a week over three weeks.
Dove Services 4-hr, 9-hr, and 12-hr parenting education seminars approved by Courts in Knox County.
865-804-1372 (call or text)
Downtown YWCA Parenting Classes
Parent Place Parenting Program
Steps Co-Parenting Divorce Education
For more information, visit divorcebetterknoxville.com
Some of the articles below are from a wonderful website called Mediate.com. They allow free access to most of their articles, but you may have to register first.
Where Settlements Cannot Go – Towards a Praxis of Reconciliation in Group Conflicts
In this article, Darrell Puls explains why he believes that “settlement” is never enough, but that mediator need to help parties move beyond settlement into resolution. The link is to the first of six parts; just follow the links on the site to reach the subsequent parts.
Apology: More Power Than We Think
Another article by Darrell Puls about how apology is under-used by mediators who don’t understand how to use it to overcome logjams. He explains the 4 levels of apology.
What It Means To Be Sorry: The Power Of Apology In Mediation
The author, Carl Schneider, explores the power of apology in the divorce mediation setting.
PARENTING & FAMILY MEDIATION
Tipping Points – Reasons Why Mediation Works in Complex Family Disputes
In his book “The Tipping Point, How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference,” Malcolm Gladwell describes how huge transformations often occur like an epidemic. The author, Rikk Larson describes how mediation can be the “tipping point” in complex family disputes, and how to look for the necessary conditions precedent.