Tennessee Supreme Court Adopts Rule Governing Collaborative Family Law

After over a year and a half of review, the Tennessee Supreme Court adopted on April 1 a new rule governing the increasingly popular form of alternative dispute resolution known as collaborative family law.

The new rule is Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 53, and it went into effect on April 1.

The introduction explains:

The distinctive feature of collaborative law, as compared to other forms of alternative dispute resolution such as mediation, is that the parties are represented during negotiations by collaborative lawyers who they retain for the limited purpose of acting as advocates and counselors during the negotiation process and obtaining court approval. . . . The goal of the collaborative family-law process is to achieve an agreement on all issues considered in the collaborative family-law process . . . .

Elsewhere the rule notes this voluntary dispute-resolution process begins when the parties sign a collaborative family-law participation agreement.

If you want to know more about collaborative divorce, how it works, etc., a good place to start is this podcast:


Here are answers to frequently asked questions about collaborative practice. You can contact one of the three practice groups in Tennessee to learn more:

I encourage all Tennessee family-law attorneys to contact one of those practice groups for information on how to become trained to handle collaborative divorces.

Knoxville divorce coach Emily Heird prepared this educational brochure for our East Tennessee practice group:

East Tennessee Collaborative Divorce brochure

East Tennessee Collaborative Divorce brochure

ETCA brochure for the blog_003

East Tennessee Collaborative Divorce brochure

Source: Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 53 (April 1, 2019)

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K.O. Herston is a family-law attorney in Knoxville, Tennessee whose practice is devoted exclusively to family law, including divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, prenuptial agreements, and other aspects of family law.

2 thoughts on “Tennessee Supreme Court Adopts Rule Governing Collaborative Family Law

  1. I already operate my practice in this manner when the client agrees. What I don’t like about the new rule, is that if the collaboration breaks down the parents have to go hire new attorneys. Most of my clients can barely afford to retain me in the first place and I don’t think they’d be interested in having to go look for another attorney if the process broke down.

    1. That’s a key feature — and risk — about the collaborative process. The idea (I think) is that it helps commit the parties to the process. The process isn’t for everyone. But it’s here, it’s growing, and clients should be made aware of this option.

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