iStock_000004625200XSmallMinnesota Parenting Time Expeditors and mediators are similar in many ways, but their roles are unique.  Both assist parents with working out disagreements that stem from custody and visitation issues, but Minnesota Parenting Time Expeditors (PTE) are provided with decision making authority that mediators do not possess.

The first difference between a PTE and a mediator is the method by which these individuals become involved in a case. A PTE is court appointed while a mediator is not. A PTE may be appointed by a Minnesota court over the objection of a party; whereas, a mediator must be mutually agreed upon between the parties.

The length of time a PTE and a mediator spend with the parties is also a significant difference between these two services.  PTEs are appointed for a term of at least one year (or longer) so that they may address ongoing parenting time issues and disputes.  During this period, parents may present issues to the PTE so that they may be resolved in a timely manner.  A mediator works with the parties on a short-term basis.  Although a few mediation sessions may be required to finalize an agreement, once an agreement is reached, the mediator’s role is complete.

PTEs are granted decision-making authority in the case, whereas mediators are not. Although PTEs encourage parents to work together to resolve their disagreements, if the parties cannot agree on a solution, the PTE may render a legally binding decision.  Mediators encourage parties to negotiate and compromise, but if the parties cannot settle their case, the mediator declares an impasse.

Understanding these important differences will help parents prepare for their sessions with these individuals.