Minnesota Divorce Mediation

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The process of mediation is slowly gaining popularity among divorcing or separating couples. Since it is cost-effective and less-complicated, spouses attempt to resolve their conflicts in a convenient way. Although laws and rules for this negotiation process are different in different countries, the basic idea remains the same. In Minnesota, mediation as a part of divorce proceedings is a session during which both the spouses meet a mediator in order to come to a mutual agreement regarding the divorce terms. This session can be carried on during the court procedures or sometimes before the procedures begin. If any couple is unable to reach a mutual agreement in Minnesota divorce mediation, their discussion or any statement made during the session cannot be used in the court. But if the couple successfully makes a mutual agreement, the facilitator should reduce this in writing and incorporate into a Marital Termination Agreement or any other form demanded by the court.

Generally in most divorce cases except those involving domestic abuse, this type of formal session is required. Again it is observed that a 'mediation clause' is inserted in most of the agreement and decrees, most commonly in cases involving minor children. This means that any parent who desires to bring any modification in the final agreement regarding parenting time or child custody, must attempt a negotiation session first, before bringing a post-decree action in the court. More than 80% of the mediation cases in this state are resolved before the couples go to the court. The divorce laws require a spouse to make a good effort to end their case through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) before they appear in the court.

Comparison between Minnesota Divorce Mediation and Litigation

Litigation has an adversarial atmosphere while mediation is executed in a constructive and supportive ambiance. The second option aims encouraging communication and balancing differences of power. The intention of negotiation session is to terminate the marital status in an amicable manner and leave the past life behind and focus on the future. The most important aspect of such session is that the separation takes place along with integrity and dignity.

All the legal issues that are dealt with in the court are also addressed in mediation. However, this process differs from litigation in certain areas. This type of session has advantages like:

  • Physical and emotional stress is lesser
  • It requires less time
  • The expenditure is lesser
  • The process results in efficient methods to solve future disputes like co-parenting

Issues discussed

  • Spousal support
  • Tax considerations
  • Separation of liabilities and / or assets
  • Real and personal property
  • Parenting responsibilities
  • Child support
  • Living plans for the children

Expenses in Minnesota Divorce Mediation

Mediators have hourly rates for their services. These rates are comparable to the hourly rate of family law lawyers in the region. It is expected that the divorcing partners should pay this hourly fee at the end of each mediation session.

Mediators also charge an administrative fee that is related to:

  • Normal work between the sessions
  • Phone calls
  • Faxes
  • Copying
  • Word Processing
  • Cover case set up

This administrative fee is almost 1 to 4 times the hourly fee. When the agreement to mediate is signed by the divorcing couples, the administrative fee is to be paid.

All the expenses are divided amongst the couple or disbursed from the joint assets. As per the Standards of Practice of the Association for Conflict Resolution, it is the foremost duty of the mediator to offer services at a decreased rate for families having low income.

Neutral experts like appraisers also charge fees which should be paid by the divorcing couples to these experts directly.

A private facilitator may charge $2000 for the entire process. A party may has to pay a filing fee of $400 to the specific county.

Power of the divorcing couple

In case of all divorcing couples, there are differences in power. Generally spouses are unaware of their own power. Also, each member feels that the other member is potent while they themselves have no power. If the mode of application of power is negative, this is a destructive process and the mediator has to interfere to learn what motivates this negative power and how it can be altered. The objective of mediation is to empower the divorcing couples to reach a fair outcome.

Mediation is helpful not only for usual cases, but also for perpetrators or victims of abuse, people with difficulties in their relations and people with developmental disabilities. So a divorcing couple must try to settle all their conflicts in a peaceful environment with the help of a mediator. An attorney can accompany the couple, if required. Once the session is over and the final settlement is reduced to writing by the attorney or the mediator, the couple must try their best to abide by the terms mentioned in the settlement.

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