Co-mediation – Rule 31 Listed Family Mediator

As a Rule 31 Listed Family Mediator, Cheryl Panther problem-solves with clients as a neutral mediator to help families address the oftentimes confusing and complex financial aspects of their family law matter. She works with both spouses to collect and analyze the information necessary to fully address the financial settlement of the marital estate and support considerations, and she helps both clients understand the economic realities of post-divorce living. As a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Ms. Panther provides relevant tax information regarding the proposed settlement so that clients are well informed of the post-divorce tax consequences of the decisions they are making in the divorce.

Consistent with our firm’s view of divorce as a life event that includes legal, financial, and emotional concerns, Ms. Panther often partners with an attorney-mediator or a mediator who is also a licensed mental health professional to help families address their global concerns in an efficient, effective, and balanced manner.

If neither client has legal representation or if there are significant legal concerns for one or both of the spouses, Ms. Panther partners with an attorney-mediator qualified to share legal and judicial process information important for decision-making. Additionally, an attorney-mediator can help ensure that the legal documents are drafted in a way that the Court will approve them. The attorney-mediator can also help families navigate Parenting Plan decisions mindful of the preferences of local judges.

If both spouses have legal representation but are struggling with conflict or other emotional dynamics that may hinder good, well-considered decision-making, Ms. Panther will encourage clients to include a mediator who is also a licensed mental health professional. In such cases, Ms. Panther focuses on the financial aspects of the divorce while the mental health professional helps the clients address the co-parenting and emotional issues.

When clients recognize that all three dynamics – legal, emotional, and financial – need to be addressed in the divorce, but prefer to work exclusively with neutral mediators, Ms. Panther will co-mediate with credentialed mediators from the other two disciplines.

Co-mediation in the forms described above can be an efficient and effective process for divorcing clients who want to resolve their dispute peacefully while preserving valuable financial resources. The process attends to the three dynamics of family law cases that are important to successful resolution. Addressing the legal, emotional, and financial components of divorce in a direct and intentional manner generally leads to more satisfying and successful outcomes for clients and their families.

Cheryl Panther is a Tennessee Supreme Court Listed Rule 31 Family Mediator and a member of the Academy of Professional Family Mediators.