Mediation in Minnesota Family Law Cases

What is Family Mediation?  Mediation is an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process. Under Minnesota General Rules of Practice 114.02, mediation is defined as “a forum in which a third party neutral facilitates communication between parties to promote settlement. A mediator may not impose his or her own judgement on the issues for that of the parties.” Parties maintain control over the outcome and mediation process. Mediation is informal and flexible; the focus is on problem resolution and encourages creative solutions. Mediation is NOT binding like arbitration. Mediation is NOT a substitute for legal advice. Mediation is NOT therapy or counselling.

Who is a third party neutral?

Minnesota General Rules of Practice 114.13 (c) sets out the requirements for a person to qualify and thus be able to put their name on the neutral roster. It is important to keep in mind that a third party neutral is “qualified” and not certified in an ADR process. It is important to do your own research on finding a mediator that will do a good job and is in your price range.

Who participates in a mediation?

The two parties participate in mediation. Attorneys are allowed to be in mediation if parties have an attorney and want them there. Attorney presence is at each party’s discretion.

Is mediation confidential?

Minnesota General Rules of Practice 112.08 determines confidentiality of mediation and other ADR processes. Generally, without the consent of all parties and a court order or necessary by law or other applicable professional codes, information from mediation sessions is not shared.

What does the process look like?

There are roughly six stages to mediation: (1) setting the stage; (2) gathering information; (3) identifying issues and interests; (4) generating options; (5) negotiation; and (6) formalizing decisions.

Typically, before the first mediation session, the mediator will gather some information from both parties involved. At the first mediation session, the mediator will, at their discretion and own personal style, decide how they will meet with the parties. This can either be done in joint sessions or in private meetings where the mediator goes back and forth. More commonly mediation will be done in joint sessions with parties’ having the ability to have private meetings or caucuses with the mediator.

What topics are covered in Family Mediation?

A wide variety of topics are covered in family mediation, common ones are property; parenting plans; financial issues; and family conflicts including, but not limited to care of family members, trusts and estates, education, and family business disputes.

Can Mediation be used if there have been allegations of Domestic Violence?

A court cannot require parties to participate in any facilitative process such as mediation if one parties claims to be a victim of domestic abuse by the other party or where the court determines there is probable cause to be domestic violence.

A party may agree to mediation when there have been circumstances of domestic violence when the court is satisfied that parties have been advised by legal counsel and have agree to mediation that will not involve face-to-face meetings of the parties.

Are Mediators Mandatory Reporters?

In Minnesota, mediators are not considered mandatory reporters. However, individual mediators may be mandatory reporter through another profession. Parenting Time Expediters (PTEs) are considered mandatory reporters. Some mediators may choose to consider themselves mandatory reporters.

Minn. Stat. §626.556 Reporting of Maltreatment of Minors (2016) and Minn. Stat. §626.557 Reporting of Maltreatment of Vulnerable Adults (2016) dictate mandatory reporting.

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Located in the historic Linden Hills neighborhood of Minneapolis, Lake Harriet Law Office Attorneys Randall A. Smith and Gail E. Mattey provide outstanding legal representation exclusively in the areas of Divorce and Family Law.

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Chinyere Okwulehie – Student Attorney

Published On: August 27, 2017Categories: Family Law Updates

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