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Effective December 1, 1997, the Circuit and Chancery Courts of Hamilton County have implemented a program established and directed by the legislature to focus attention of divorcing parents on the effect of divorce on their minor children. The program is authorized by Chapter 557 of the Public Acts of 1997 and can be found at T.C.A. Sec 36-6-401, et seq.

Attorneys should be aware that their clients would be required to comply with the requirements of the legislation, which will include:
  • Attending a four hour seminar (see below) on the impact of divorce on children. Online Parenting course DOES NOT meet the requirements for a parenting class in this jurisdiction
  • Filing parenting plans with the original Complaint or Petition and (if disputed) with the Answer, and
  • Mediating disputes over the parenting plan before taking such disputes before a judge.
Parents will be required to file with the court certificates of completion of the education program and evidence of a good faith attempt to mediate any dispute over the parenting plan. The requirements of the legislation will apply to all cases involving the custody or support of minor children except Title IV-D cases. Mediation will not be required prior to a court hearing in cases where it is found that a parent has engaged in physical or sexual abuse or a pattern of emotional abuse of a child or a person living with the child.
The cost of education and mediation will be borne by the parties and will be based on ability to pay. The parties will be free to use any mediator, but if they are unable to agree, the courts will only appoint certified Rule 31 mediators.

The Parenting Coordinator for Hamilton County is Babs Ragsdale, (423) 209-6658. E-mail Address is

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