For parents, the most difficult part of a divorce is losing time with their children. Living separately means parents must now split time with their children, which can be a painful experience for the entire family.

It may surprise you to know that less than 3% of family law cases go to trial in Minnesota. When trials occur, a family court judge reviews the evidence, listens to the testimony of the parents and their witnesses and considers the recommendations of Custody Evaluator (a costly process in and of itself). At the end of the trial, the family court judge makes a final decision on the issues, including custody and parenting time. Unfortunately, the judge’s decisions are usually unsatisfactory to both parents and the children.

In Minnesota, parents are required to try to settle their parenting disputes before being granted a trial. For this reason, many Minnesota parents choose child custody mediation because mediation allows parents to control the outcome of their case. Mediators are trained, third party neutrals who helpparents negotiate a customized settlement agreement which serves the needs of the whole family. Since mediators are not decision makers, any resulting agreement is the product of the parties’ hard work and compromise.

Parents know best what will work for their children in terms of a visitation (parenting time) schedule. During mediation, parents are free to be as creative and customize a parenting time schedule around work schedules, extracurricular activities, homework, and holidays whereas a family court judge is not able to provide such creativity or customization.

Parents who choose to mediate child custody and parenting time save money and reduce stressby avoiding a courtroom battle over the children. Mediating parents avoid the disappointment, shock, and frustration that often follows a trial because during mediation, each parent has a say in determining the outcome and is willing and able to implement the custody and visitation (parenting time) arrangement agreed upon in mediation.