Mediation is an Alternative Dispute Resolution method. A mediator is a neutral third party who may or may not be an attorney whose only job is to facilitate an agreement between the parties. The agreement can be temporary or permanent. Once the agreement is reached, the Court typically adopts the agreement and make it part of its Order or the final Divorce Decree. Mediation is a confidential process, meaning that if mediation is unsuccessful, or even if it is successful, what is discussed in Mediation cannot be used in a future Court proceeding. The mediator cannot testify in any Court proceedings. The Court cannot Order mediation if there was or is a history of domestic abuse. If an agreement is reached, the mediator will memorialize the agreement in writing (typically referred to as a “Memorandum of Agreement”) and forward the agreement to both parties to have it reviewed by an attorney of his or her choice. If the mediator does not automatically give this option, it is always a good idea to have the agreement reviewed by a lawyer before it is memorialized into a Court Order. The most important thing when conducting mediation is to ensure that you have access to all of the requisite information, financial or otherwise. It is not unusual for lawyers to attend mediation with their clients and therefore, just because a spouse retains a lawyer does not mean that mediation is not a viable option. It is also important to understand that the mediator does not have the obligation to protect either party’s best interests. The mediator does not represent either spouse and therefore, any agreement that results at mediation has to be carefully negotiated. The mediator does not have the authority to make a decision. Therefore, the practical effect of mediation is that if one party is unreasonable or does not like how the mediation is going, they can terminate the process. In Minnesota, any individual can be a mediator; however, the Minnesota Supreme Court has a list of Family Law Neutrals who have completed the requisite education and training. TO FIND A FAMILY LAW NEUTRAL UNDER THE MINNESOTA STATEWIDE ADR-RULE 114 NEUTRALS ROSTERClick here

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