Mediation

Mediation is a confidential process in which two parties meet with a trained mediator to discuss issues between them, gather relevant information, and with that information, address those issues with workable solutions. In a divorce or child custody matter, parties can meet in mediation at all stages of the process, before going to court, after filing a case with the court, or even after the judge has made one or more decisions.

Is mediation expensive?

When compared to the cost of both parties hiring lawyers and the time and expense of navigating the traditional court process, mediation is a bargain. In mediation with our mediation center, each party pays an hourly rate for the mediator’s time (for more information, see Costs). A divorce with children can usually be completed in mediation in somewhere between 5-10 hours. When no children are involved and assets are minimal, the time in mediation may only be a few hours. Compare that to the cost of the adversarial court process where both parties hire lawyers ($2,500-$5,000 retainers with hourly rates between $200 and $500 per hour) and proceeding to court (preparing for and attending multiple hearings), the difference in cost is staggering. More importantly, it makes sense to consider the emotional cost of an adversarial divorce. Going to court invariably means your focus is on arguing your side of the story to a judicial officer who knows little to nothing about you and your family. Although it may seem tempting to try to “win,” most people who spend the money needed to do so are not necessarily happy with the result. Mediation is an opportunity to have your voice heard, but also to listen to the other side and to come up with solutions that both of you agree to and make sense for your family.

Do I need a lawyer?

In some situations, maybe not. In most situations, even if you are making agreements in mediation, there are a few reasons to also hire a lawyer. First, to feel comfortable with a final agreement, it may make sense to meet with a lawyer to go over the agreements made to make sure they seem appropriate from your unique perspective. Second, once mediation is complete, a lawyer can be hired to draft the legal pleadings needed to file with the court. Some people are comfortable drafting those pleadings on their own using the forms available through the state court website, but having a lawyer do the drafting those takes the guesswork out of getting the forms right. If you do already have a lawyer, your lawyer can certainly come to mediation, although it is not necessary.

What issues are covered in a divorce mediation?

In a divorce there are generally two sets of issues, social and financial. If you have children (social), decisions will need to be made regarding custody (both legal and physical) and parenting time. In mediation, we can discuss your children and any factors that affect how you want to raise your children after you are divorced. A thorough parenting plan will include such issues as specific parenting time schedules, transportation, introduction of significant others, communications between parents, and many other important details. Financial issues include the division of assets and debts, spousal maintenance, and child support. Generally, working out a fair division of assets and debts involves creating a balance sheet by gathering financial documentation. Discussing spousal maintenance often involves discussing the incomes of both parties and the ability of one spouse to support themselves after a divorce. If you have children, child support will need to be calculated and addressed in any final agreement.

How does the mediation process work?

The first step in scheduling mediation is to contact our office to schedule the first session. An intake form will be sent to you to obtain general information about your situation. If necessary, an initial phone call with the mediator and both parties may be helpful to set ground rules and assist with information gathering before the first session. Mediation sessions are usually three hours long. If needed, follow-up sessions will be scheduled at the end of the first session.

Why should I use your mediation center?

Both our mediators, Gillian Blomquist and Kyle Wermerskirchen, have been practicing family law for over ten years. Both are experienced mediators as well. This means they have a unique perspective of understanding the law and the risks of going to court, but their vast experience also gives them the ability to come up with creative solutions to the issues you face. Both of them have extensive training in mediation and other ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) processes, but also an understanding of the current state of the laws in Minnesota.

Do you have a sliding-fee scale for mediation and other services?

Yes. We believe that mediation should be accessible to everyone, not just those who have relatively high earning capacity. Therefore, we offer a sliding-fee scale for mediation services in which each party pays according to their incomes. If you wish to utilize the sliding-fee scale for mediation services, documentation of your income will be necessary at the intake stage.

For More Information

Early Neutral Evaluation

Parenting Consulting

Custody Evaluations

Costs

Alternative Dispute Resolution
http://www.mncourts.gov/Documents/0/Public/Alternative_Dispute_Resolution/ADR_Brochure.pdf