Edina, MN Family Law Attorney, Jane Van Valkenburg describes how mediation works in a divorce.
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Mediation is with or without attorneys. Generally what happens is that they have an initial meeting with people. And at that time they gather general information on what are they gonna do. And then most mediators say, “Okay, the next mediation that we’re gonna have, we’re gonna talk about, for example – “and this is not hard and cast – “we’re gonna talk about cash flow.” And so the parties are gonna bring in together income information, their budget, and then they’re gonna talk about child support, spousal maintenance, and those kinds of things and get that sort of hammered down.
Then the next time they may talk about custody, parenting time, what are they gonna do about that, see if they can hammer that down. Then they may talk about property and look at that and whether they need to bring in neutrals. But they sort of break it down so that you can focus on that.
If the attorneys are not involved, what I advise my clients is to say, “If you’re talking about cash flow, let’s talk about that. What are the parameters of the law?” So that they go in and say, “Okay, I’ve got a spousal maintenance claim. Here’s what I think the law may do.” So they can go in and be informed and not just guess as to what, and fall into something that they may not be reasonable.
So that’s how I approach mediation if I’m not there, but oftentimes the attorneys are there. And at the end of the mediation, then the mediator puts together “here’s what the agreement is,” and then it goes to the attorneys to draft and send off to the court.