Minnesota divorce trials are stressful, expensive, and emotional. Since Minnesota court dockets are backlogged, it may take months to schedule a trial. The parties often dread the trial date as it approaches. Divulging the details of one’s marriage in front of a judge is scary for most, and being cross-examined by the opposing attorney is often even more frightening. It is not uncommon for trials to be continued (sometimes at the last minute) wasting valuable time and resources, not to mention causing unnecessary stress.
Further, Minnesota family courts procedures, such as divorce trials, are open to the public. This means that your privacy is exposed as soon as the court process begins. In addition, most of the records in a Minnesota family court cases are accessible to the public; therefore, it is possible that members of the public may review the personal details of your case, even on sensitive subjects such as financial matters and child custody.
If you go to trial, the judge (a stranger who does not know you) will make decisions on the contested issues in your case, ranging from assets and debts to child custody. Typically, divorcing parents will be granted joint legal custody and one parent will be granted sole physical custody of the children, with the other parent being granted reasonable parenting time. If custody is contested, your spouse may bring witnesses in to argue that you are not qualified to care for the children, which is painful and traumatic. And because trial records are public information, your children could one day request copies of affidavits and other court transcripts relating to their lives. Mediation is a confidential process. Nothing that is said in mediation can be used in a trial allowing you, your spouse and your children to maintain privacy as you work through the details and negotiations needed to reach a reasonable settlement.
After the trial has concluded and the judge has heard arguments and reviewed evidence on all of the contested issues, the judge will make decisions that finalize each element of the case. You may fully agree with the judge’s ruling, or you may hate it – either way your options to appeal and change those rulings are limited. At the end of the day, there are no “winners” in family law and more often than not, both parties to walk away from a divorce trial in Minnesota feeling disappointed.
When you mediate your divorce you will likely make some concessions and may not be happy with every point, but it will be your settlement. After all, you know your children better than anyone else. Why would you leave the determination of who they spend time with to a complete stranger? You will have been instrumental in all decisions and will fully understand how and why they were made. Being fully involved of the process and in charge of your destiny can make a difficult time easier.