How to Make the Most of the Mediation Process in Minnesota

Whether you are struggling with a family law or business matter, the prospect of litigation can be daunting. Before you engage in courtroom battle to settle your dispute, take some time to explore other options, such as mediation.

Minnesota courts require the parties in most family law cases and nearly all civil lawsuits to try a form of alternative dispute resolution. The option most parties pick is mediation. Unlike the traditional courtroom process where a judge or jury determines the outcome, mediation allows the disputing parties to work together to negotiate a mutually satisfactory resolution. Many people who have found success through mediation report greater satisfaction over the outcome, as they played an active role in shaping the resolution. As you explore your dispute resolution options in Minneapolis, let’s look at some strategies for getting the most out of the mediation process.

Understanding Your Role in Mediation

Those unfamiliar with mediation often wonder what their role will be during the process. They tend to picture the formality of a courtroom, in which the judge presides over the proceedings, and the parties communicate primarily through their attorneys. However, mediation is a much more informal process where the parties talk about their case either directly with each other or through the mediator. The mediator is there to help the parties communicate, to make sure they get the chance to tell their story and explain what matters most to them in the dispute. But the mediator does not determine the outcome. The mediator will ask questions and perhaps make suggestions, but in mediation, the parties decide what their solution is.

As a participant, you will be asked to enter the process with an open mind, prepared to explain your understanding of the dispute, and willing to listen to what the other party has to say. From there, you will negotiate and collaborate as you and the other party explore whether there is an outcome that serves you both.

Identifying Your Goals Before Mediation Begins

One of the best strategies to help you find success in mediation is to articulate your goals before you begin the process. Take some time to think about your desired outcome, and why that outcome is important to you. Ask yourself to identify places where you are open to compromise—what concessions are you willing to make to achieve your goals? The mediator may ask you about these goals as mediation begins, but it’s helpful to reflect on these topics ahead of time. Many people are surprised to find that they share goals with the other party; by focusing on these shared goals, both parties can approach the negotiation process with a greater willingness to find common ground.

Rely on the Mediator for Support

Although mediation tends to move forward more quickly and smoothly than litigation, disputes still arise during the process. You’re there, after all, because you are in a dispute over something important to you and the other side – and talking through those conflicts isn’t always easy. If you encounter a communication issue or find that you and the other party cannot move past a particular disagreement, remember that the mediator is there to coax you forward. As a highly-trained communications professional, the mediator will use various tools and techniques to help you resolve the issue at hand. The mediator is not there to judge or take sides; their goal is to support you as you progress through the process and arrive at a satisfying resolution.

And remember, that resolution may be the realization that the two sides just can’t agree and you’ll need to go through litigation after all. Mediation is about the parties’ self-determination. Your role in mediation isn’t to make an agreement no matter what; it is to take advantage of the opportunity to explore settlement possibilities, including options that may not be available in court. A mediator will try to make sure you see all the options, but will not pressure you into a settlement.


Learn more about the mediation process in Minneapolis and St. Paul by calling Rubric Legal LLC today at (612) 465-0074.

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