COURT BASED PROGRAMS
General Sessions Civil Court Day of Court Mediation involves disputes among adults suing each other in matters such as landlord tenant disputes, collections, consumer issues, neighbor disputes, torts such as damages from a car accident and the like. Think (respectfully) of Judge Judy. In most cases the maximum amount a person can sue for in Civil Sessions is $25,000. CMC also handled cases where unmarried couples or roommates who have property or money disputes caused by splitting up. These mediations are free of charge if the parties have a case in Knox County Civil Sessions Court and are available on the date of the scheduled court hearing, first come, first served. Knox County General Sessions Court Mediation
General Sessions Criminal Court involves two opportunities for mediation:
1. Where a Warrant has been issued: In these cases a person , the defendant, has been charged with a crime. The District Attorney (DA) will screen the case and determine that mediation would be appropriate. Usually these cases involve assault, theft, or harassment, where the people in dispute are neighbors, family members, or otherwise have a relationship which will keep them in touch. Under this category, CMC has also mediated ordinance violations involving parking, noise, and animal control within neighborhoods.
2. Before a Warrant has issued (Pre-Warrant): These cases are referred from the DA, Judicial Commissioner, or law enforcement staff. When a person attempts to file charges against someone, they go before a Judicial Commissioner (JC) or the DA. If the DA or JC feels that the case would be better served by mediation, that office may choose to refer the case to mediation rather than grant a warrant to charge the alleged offender with a crime.
Juvenile Court involves four mediation programs:
1. Juvenile Justice & Status Offense Cases: These cases involve delinquent youth who receive a charge in situations such as school fights, theft, vandalism, or harassment. We also mediate cases involving youth who have been charged with a status offense, an act against the law because the offender is a minor: runaway, smoking, curfew violation, truancy, not obeying a parent or guardian. The young disputants may resolve their case so that they have no Juvenile Court record by agreeing to terms of probation, restitution, apology, and the like. We also mediate cases where the child is in detention and needs a probation plan before going home. Truancy Cases: CMC mediates between the truant student, the parents or legal guardians, and a school representative. When children in middle and high school are truant, their cases are referred to CMC by Knox County Schools. The successful mediation prevents both parent and child from being prosecuted for truancy by the Knox County District Attorney. Truancy is usually the tip of the iceberg, so we also provide a screening for special education needs, school bullying & harassment, abuse and neglect, substance abuse and other issues which may also be present. These cases are mediated before a warrant is issued.
2. Parenting and Visitation Cases: Unmarried parents who have split up have a need to negotiate co-parenting issues, such as visitation schedules, decision-making, and financial obligations. Sometimes one parent’s access to their child has been limited due to drug, alcohol, or other addictions. Sometimes a grandparent has been given custody and needs to work out visitation with the parents to maintain a relationship with the child. CMC provides free mediation after individual intake and screening to help the parties resolve their issues so that their child or children’s best interest is understood and taken into account. Most of CMC’s cases come to mediation directly from the Juvenile Intake Office. We also take referrals from agencies, family members, and from the parents themselves. We also make referrals to other agencies and attorneys when a parent needs to do homework or receive services before mediation.
3. Teen-Parent Cases: Parents may come to Juvenile Court seeking help because, although their teenage child hasn’t yet broken the law (or been caught), the parent has serious concerns about their safety. The problems at home and school involve issues like communication, discipline, obedience, step-parents or the parent’s significant other, and sometimes physical or emotional abuse. CMC receives these cases as referrals from the court, schools, therapists, and directly from parents. Mediation or “family conferencing” is a way to assist the parent & child to come up with ground rules for living together in a safe way. CMC screens cases and makes referrals to other agencies if needed.
4. Dependency Mediation: CMC receives referrals from the Department of Children’s Services to mediate between parties involved in a juvenile court case when a child is removed from its parents and put into foster care or with a relative because of serious allegations against the parent or parents of abuse and neglect. The State of Tennessee is then the child’s legal custodian, and the parent must fulfill the requirements of a “permanency plan” so that the child can be returned home. The goal is permanency for the child. In the most serious cases, parents’ rights may be terminated and the child will be placed with an adoptive family. In mediation, DCS, the natural parents, the foster parents, the Guardian Ad Litem, and various agency helpers may be able to solve problems which shorten the child’s time in foster care or can assist with a cooperative, open arrangement during the adoption process.
Divorce: CMC provides divorce mediation services using our well-trained volunteers as co-mediators. The mediation service is priced on a sliding fee scale based on income and family size. Both parties must be willing to voluntarily participate, and come to CMC before a court order to mediate has been issued by the judge. Co-mediators help parties draft a Marital Dissolution Agreement and also a Parenting Plan if they have minor children. If the divorcing parties create their divorce agreements, CMC will assist them in finding an affordable attorney or make a referral to Legal Aid of East Tennessee to assist them with filing for an agreed (irreconcilable differences) divorce. CMC only provides mediation services, not legal services.
Required parenting education classes for Knox County divorce courts | Knox County Fourth Circuit Court | Knox County Chancery Court
Parenting Mediation & Education Coordination: In 1997, Tennessee law was changed to require that all divorcing parents must have a permanent parenting plan before a divorce would be granted. Since that time, CMC has helped divorcing parents to find free or reduced fee Rule 31 family mediators when the court has ordered divorce or post-divorce mediation. The mediators will handle all disputes at hand, related to both parenting and division of marital property, assets and debts. Divorcing or divorced parents are sent to CMC by the court with an Order to Mediate, which in turn requires a Rule 31 mediator to mediate their case. CMC provides intake, domestic violence screening, and mediator referrals for both parties. The mediators on our list are Rule 31 family listed and most have been listed as specially trained in domestic violence issues. The parties go through an easy “deselection” process after being offered the same three names chosen randomly from our list of experienced family mediators, all of whom have agree to take reduced fee cases. The mediators are paid directly by parties. CMC will also inform parents how to access reduce fee parenting classes, which are required by law or court rule. Learn more about parenting mediation.
Domestic Violence Screening: Tennessee is an “opt-out” state, allowing the victim or vulnerable party to opt out of any mandatory mediation if there is a history of domestic violence in the relationship. In some cases, it may be very helpful for the victim to mediate, to end the relationship quicker and with more control of the outcome. CMC staff, with years of experience and training, screens all of our cases to understand whether or not domestic violence is a risk which will make mediation an unsafe option. We train our volunteer mediators in domestic violence screening protocol, and develop a safety plan for mediation with the vulnerable party. Our mediators will terminate mediation safely when necessary because of domestic violence issues arising in the context of mediation. We believe the screening process is continuous. CMC also provides domestic violence training for Rule 31 mediators and domestic violence advocates. We often co-train with the Family Justice Center, serve on court improvement and access to justice committees, and are working on better ways to handle cases where there is a history of family violence.
NON-COURT BASED PROGRAMS
Peer Mediation in Schools: CMC provides peer mediation training in 12 schools in Knox County, and has previously trained Alcoa & Heritage High Schools in Blount County.
Adult Protective Services: We have received referrals to mediate cases where there is concern that an elder or disabled person is receiving inappropriate care in an institution, nursing home, or at home.
Neighborhoods: CMC works with local police and the sheriff to mediate referred cases before the conflict rises to level of arrest. Cases often include boundary disputes, landlord tenant and public housing disputes, noise, dogs, cases involving mental illness, and family feuds.
Mediation between and within organizations: CMC mediates disputes or communication problems within and between nonprofit organizations, churches, and small businesses (board disputes, staff-to-staff disputes, staff-board disputes, staff-volunteer disputes, “founder’s syndrome”, and the like). There can be personality and behavior issues, money issues, space issues, issues involving competition between businesses, family succession issues.
SWORP child visitation: CMC has a contract with the UT School of Social Work, Research and Policy (SWORP) wherein we will mediate referrals from a program developed by SWORP in conjunction with Knox County Child Support Enforcement Services. The referred cases are similar to those received from Juvenile Court, usually unmarried parents with child support and visitation issues. The parties may or may not be involved in a court process, but the staff at the Enforcement office may refer the parties to mediation to resolve visitation and parenting issues. How much child support will be paid or is owed as arrearage is not a negotiable issue; it is determined by a required formula, Tennessee Income Shares. Parents can negotiate their time with child, including day-to-day schedules and the holidays. They can negotiate decision-making responsibilities for medical, educational and religious issues, and who will be responsible for medical and other out of pocket costs.
FEE BASED SERVICES
Organizational Mediation: When governmental agencies, nonprofits and private businesses, big and small, have an internal conflict, or when twoorganizations are in dispute or would like to collaborate, mediation is a confidential and thoughtful way to clarify and resolve issues.
Land Use Mediation: An example of a case would be a dispute between residents of a development and a developer planning new construction in the area.
Special Education Mediation: Usually these are cases where parents have issues about the quality of services a school is providing their child, especially those children with special needs, or when there is a dispute between parents and the school over a disciplinary action.
We hold trainings throughout the year, basic, advanced and refresher trainings. The following CMC trainings, whether for volunteer or others, are approved pursuant to Rule 31 of the Tennessee Supreme Court, and may be used as the training required to be listed as a Rule 31 mediator. One must apply to be a part of the training and pay a training fee. Priority is given to those who are making a volunteer mediator commitment, but there is almost always space for others:
Basic Civil Training (40 hrs)
Within the Civil Training, we offer Family to Civil Crossover Training (16 hrs)
Basic Family Training (46 hrs)
With the Family Training, we offer Civil to Family Crossover Training (32 hrs)
Special Issues in Domestic Violence for Mediators (12 hrs)
Basic and Crossover training in either civil or family mediation is held at least once each year, usually at the beginning of the calendar year in January-February. We co-train with the UT College of Law Mediation Clinic, include law students in our class, and use the law school facilities. We train all the required topics and also emphasize skills and information needed to volunteer for our mediation programs. All our trainings incorporate classroom lecture, interactive skills training, role-play, panel discussions with experienced mediators. A unique and valuable component of CMC training is the opportunity to observe real mediation sessions and then debrief with the mediators and CMC staff.
If the trainee has made a volunteer commitment to CMC, there are required observations and co-mediations during the new volunteer’s mentoring period. For those who may want to pursue private mediation work, this component is a valuable way to understand the mediation process in order to decide what your own process structure will be.
Volunteer “Bridge” Training: This training is for those mediators who have already taken approved Rule 31 training (civil or family) and who would like to volunteer to co-mediate in CMC’s court programs. Rule 31 Mediators benefit from experience, and CMC provides them with interesting and challenging co-mediations, as well as giving the mediator an opportunity to give back to the community, as required by Rule 31. Each spring, we conduct a bridge training for civil mediators and a bridge training for parenting and divorce mediation.
Community Housing (TCAC): Services provided through a grant from HUD that passes through TCAC. CMC has included TCAC (TN Community Action Committee) staff and residents of housing authorities from around East TN at five of our volunteer mediator classes. Additionally, CMC has provided workshops at the annual TCAC conference, and has provided on-site mediation and meeting facilitation, as well as additional training for residents.
Small Organization Training: This is a fee-based service. CMC has occasionally been asked to provide mediation training for local businesses and non-profit organizations. CMC has also provided several 2-3 hour focused workshops for non-profit employees on conflict resolution skills. For non-profits and small businesses, our fees are reduced. Please call and ask for information.
Department of Mental Health & Developmental Disabilities: Staff training in conflict management & resolution skills.