Disputes that affect your family are often the most difficult to navigate. Whether you are going through a divorce, negotiating child custody or parenting time arrangements, or struggling with another personal matter, it’s important to understand your options for obtaining your desired outcome. In Minnesota, most civil cases are subject to the Alternative Dispute Resolution process which as a practical matter usually means that parties are encouraged to participate in mediation before they take the matter to court unless there is a history of domestic violence. If this is your first experience with mediation in Minnesota, here are a few things to help you get a sense of what to expect throughout the process.
The Goal of Mediation in Minnesota
Taking a family dispute or divorce to court can be stressful and costly. To streamline the process and give parents more control over the outcome, Minnesota requires the parties to at least discuss the possibility of resolving their matter through ADR. Mediation is the most common form of ADR in Minnesota, and it often empowers parties to talk through their disagreements and find a solution that fits their family. One of the powerful things about mediation is that it lets parents just talk about their kids and what they think their kids need and want — without the conflict inherent in a court hearing. The mediator guides the process, facilitating conversations and encouraging the parties to listen to each other and to collaborate to create an agreement. Most participants find the process more satisfying than court because they get to shape the outcome.
A Cost-Effective and Expedient Approach
Mediation offers several benefits to disputing parties; it often keeps costs down and takes less time to achieve a resolution. It’s estimated that the average cost of divorce in the U.S. is around $15,000. Mediation tends to cost much less, as the process is more streamlined than litigation. A typical mediation involves one or more sessions lasting between two to four hours each. Of course, each mediation is different, and several factors influence the exact duration of the mediation process. In general, the more prepared the parties are and the more willing they are to work toward a common goal, the smoother the process moves. In most cases, the parties are able to secure a resolution more quickly than they would in court.
Getting Ready for Mediation
Mediation works best when you go in with a plan. You need to be ready and willing to adjust that plan, certainly, but you’ll have a better discussion and ask better questions if you think ahead about things like:
- What kind of parenting schedule works best for your children? What makes the schedule you have in mind better for the kids than the other parent’s proposal?
- How does your proposal impact school? Will it work with the kids’ activities?
- How will your suggested approach support the relationship between both parents? This is an important factor for Minnesota family courts.
- If you can’t reach an agreement, how will a continued fight between their parents affect your children? Are the issues keeping you from an agreement important enough to outweigh that impact on your kids? Sometimes they are, but it is always something to think over.
Initiating the Mediation Process in Minneapolis
One of the most important steps of mediation is to take some time to speak with potential mediators to determine which individual will best serve your needs. Mediators shouldn’t talk about the merits of your case in these brief consultations, but you can get a sense of their experience and philosophy. You’ll be discussing sensitive and personal family matters during mediation, so you want to make sure that your mediator will guide you through the process with sensitivity, respect, and encouragement.
Interested in learning more about the mediation process in Minneapolis and St. Paul? Call Rubric Legal LLC today at (612) 465-0074 to discuss your goals.