Mediators are third party neutrals who help those involved in a dispute reach an agreement outside of the courtroom. The parties typically meet with a mediator in an office to discuss their disagreement and how it may be resolved.

Mediation is used in various types of law, from business disputes to personal injury cases. In Minnesota, family mediators help parties work out their differences in domestic cases, such as divorces and child custody disputes.

Family courts in Minnesota require parties to participate in some form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) before a trial is scheduled. Although there are many forms of ADR, family mediation is one of the most common and most effective.

In Minnesota, family mediation can address all issues relating to divorce and custody of children including division of all assets and debts (home equity, retirement and loans), financial support (child support and/or spousal maintenance/alimony). And parenting issues including custody and parenting time. During family mediation, the parties share the facts of the case with the mediator and each has the opportunity to explain their wants and needs for each disputed issue.The mediator listens to each side and helps the parties think of creative alternatives and reach compromises in order to reach a comprehensive settlement. The mediator memorializes the parties’ agreements in a written Memorandum of Agreement which is then filed with the court.

Although Minnesota family courts require parties to try to settle their case, the timing of when mediation is scheduled is usually left to the discretion of the parties and/or their attorneys. Given the fact that mediation is much more successful when scheduled early in the process, it makes sense to schedule mediation before adversarial tactics and litigation cause positions to become entrenched. Entrenched positions are even more likely when strong emotions are involved, as they are in family court disputes. Additionally, scheduling family mediation early in the legal process allows parties to settle their disagreements more quickly, saving months of emotional distress and thousands of dollars.