Describe the mediation process in divorce.

Burnsville, MN Family Law Attorney, Merlyn Meinerts discusses what happens in a mediation process in divorce.

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Alternative dispute resolution under Minnesota law, Rule 114 in particular, can take many different forms mediation being one of them where a third party works as a neutral third party facilitator. Their job is to hear information from both parties to understand the positions and the issues that are in place and work through options that may exist for resolving that particular case. Mediation can be and is a very effective way of resolving the case.

In addition to mediation, another form of ADR is early neutral evaluation where the evaluator early in the process working as a neutral hears information from the parties but then is equipped by court order to give an evaluative perspective as to what the case looks like. In cases involving social early neutral evaluation that leads to questions about custody and parenting time. And after both parties give their perspectives the evaluator provides insight as to what options may exist and what a likely outcome may look like. And then, similarly, financial early neutral evaluation or FEN considers things like child support, spousal maintenance, and the division of property.

In Dakota County and other parts of the state there’s also a movement toward working with what are called moderated settlement conferences, which is another form of alternative dispute resolution. A moderated settlement conference is practically on the eve of trial where the parties with their lawyers show up at the courtroom with a judge assigned to the case being available. The moderator then works with the parties to see through one last-ditch effort whether or not the case can be settled. That’s also a very effective way of alternative dispute resolution.