In Minnesota, many parties who decide to participate in divorce mediation do so without the assistance of an attorney. Divorce mediation takes place outside of the courtroom, usually in a mediator’s office. The process is fairly laid back, as the parties participate in an open discussion with the mediator about the facts of their case. Divorce mediation in Minnesota is highly successful because the goal is to settle the case and resolve differences.
It is common to feel anxious about attending mediation on your own, especially if this is your first experience in a family court case. However, by keeping a few facts about mediation in mind, you will be able to prepare well for your session.
The mediator typically meets with both parties together; however there may be circumstances which warrant separate discussions with the mediator – this is called caucusing. There may be sensitive topics that you want to share with the mediator in order to avoid causing an angry response from your spouse. For example, you may be concerned about your spouse dating and exposing the children to new partners too soon or you may have concerns about chemical dependency.
Documentation is an important part of the mediation process because it allows each party and the mediator to trust that accurate information is being shared and helps ensure that facts rather than emotions are the focus of the negotiations. Financial records, medical records, third-party assessments, emails, text messages, Facebook posts are all commonly shared and reviewed during mediation.
Keep your goals in mind during mediation. It is a good idea to make a list of your goals so that they are all addressed at mediation and nothing is forgotten. Remember, all settlements include some concessions on both sides. It is not reasonable to believe you will get everything you want. A good settlement will leave both parties wanting and perhaps even feel a little unfair. These same feelings are even more common with court rulings. There are no winners in family law so a good goal to strive for is a settlement that is reasonable, workable and that you can live with (accept) over time.