Minnesota requires divorcing couples to try to settle their disagreements before the court will schedule a trial date. As a result, many Minnesotans chose parenting mediation to settle issues involving their children, such as custody and parenting time (visitation). Parenting mediation takes place in a less adversarial environment than a court room and it allows parents to control their own outcomes; for these reasons, mediation is highlyeffective for settling all kinds of parenting issues including custody and parenting time/visitation disputes. Another benefit of parenting mediation is that it is more efficient and less costly than litigation.

During parenting mediation, the mediator helps parents create a detailed parenting plan which addresses important parenting issues and suits the unique needs of the family. A qualified parenting mediator is trained in alternative dispute resolution and is knowledgeable about family law and child development. Each parent has an opportunity to state what he or she wants for the children with regard to custody and parenting time/visitation. Using this information, the mediator facilitates a discussion between the parents and helps them fine-tune their agreements and settle their differences without going to court. Once agreements are reached, the mediator drafts a written Memorandum of Agreement.

Parenting mediation is an excellent tool for Minnesota couples because it allows parents to control the outcomes of the case. The mediator is not a decision-maker. The parents are free to accept or reject settlement terms that are proposed by each other or the mediator. The mediator may also identify unreasonable positions of either party; and, assist with identifying more reasonable alternatives.

Parenting mediation may address as many issues as the parents like, including those that may arise in the future. For example, if the parents know that their child will need braces in a year, they may agree in advance about how to split these expenses. By creating a detailed parenting plan during parenting mediation, parents will reduce, if not prevent, unnecessary disagreements in the future.