Minnesota Divorce Mediation

Minnesota divorce mediation is not like California divorce mediation.For one thing, divorce mediation in CA has been up and running a lot longer.It’s a normal process for divorce and nobody thinks about it. Here in Minnesota divorce mediation is different. For one thing, it takes a while for trends on the coast to become “trendy” around here. Most people in Minnesota think of attorneys when they consider divorcing. And there is a difference between Minneapolis Divorce mediation, Saint Paul divorce mediation and say, Rochester divorce mediation. It is more common to find mediators in the Twin Cities who are not attorneys, but it is more difficult to find a “non-attorney”
mediator (that’s what thy call us) out state than it is in the Twin Cities metro.

I like to think of my mediation practice as Minnesota family mediation, because families and especially kids, come first. I have the counseling and logic background to work well with emotions, but also help you figure out what is practical. This means that you can work things out for yourselves rather than spending many thousands of dollars going to court to fight things out.

Getting back to the differences between Minnesota mediation and California mediation. In California there are no seasons really, while in Minnesota there are. So there are different times of the year that are busy for Minnesota mediation services. Spring is busy (who moves out in a Minnesota winter?), summer is busy, especially just before school in the fall. Then it tapers off gradually at Christmas time except for divorced parenting holiday schedules. It helps me to realize how much we are affected by both people around us (culture) and weather. though I can’t prove it, I’m willing to bet that bad winters increase the divorce rate. People get stir-crazy after a while.


Court Ordered Mediation

I got a call this morning from a Rochester mediation client. Minnesota mediation clients often call me with questions. A common question is this: “My mediation is court ordered; What do I do?” I’m happy to answer this question, but first I want to explain a bit about court ordered mediations.

A court ordered mediation is an order to try to settle your dispute before you try court. If a judge orders you to do something, it is important that you do it, because the judge has the power to make your life much more difficult than most people realize. If you ignore a court order, you can be fined or in extreme cases a warrant can even be issued for your arrest. Now these things don’t happen very often, because judges want to settle disputes, not delay them by jail time. What is more important is that a judge helps you settle your case, and you want the judge to think you are cooperative.

Occasionally a mediation client asks me to set up a time for a court ordered mediation with their ex, and their ex refuses. When that happens I am often asked to write a letter stating that I tried to set up a mediation, that one party was cooperative, but the other party wasn’t willing. I would not want to be the uncooperative party when they get back to court. The first question the judge will say is “Why didn’t you try mediation?” and you’d better have a good answer. The cooperative party can say “I tried, Your Honor.” but the other person is confronted by a judge who may believe they are uncooperative. Is a judge likely to accept their excuses? Is a judge who thinks you are uncooperative likely to rule in your favor and do what you want? Probably not.

Judges don’t like to try family cases in court. Judges want you to figure things out on your own because judges almost never win when they rule in a family case. one party, and often both parties, are unhappy. If you’re not happy with a decision then it’s back to court again and again.

In mediation YOU can figure out what’s best. The judge doesn’t love your kids, but you do. The judge doesn’t know your kids, may never meet your kids, but you do. Going to court just makes things harder. After all the nasty things that are said in court it is hard to co-parent, and you will be co-parents forever, until your kids are 18 and even after your children turn 18. when mediation is court ordered, do it. Even if mediation is not court ordered, give mediation a chance before you go to court, before you even hire attorneys. With your family mediation, you can save thousands in attorneys’ fees.

Minneapolis mediation divorce clients, St. Paul divorce mediation clients, greater Minnesota divorce mediation clients: Give mediation a chance, whether court ordered mediation or before that. You can save thousands of dollars, get a great agreement. you’ll be glad you did.

Mediation and Cost

When people call me for Minnesota divorce mediation or Minnesota family mediation, the first they often say is “how much does it cost?” A question I ask people seeking family mediation or divorce mediation in return is this: “How well do you get along?” If two people can’t get along well at all, ANY way they try to work things out is not going to be easy, at least at first.

I wish I could offer a flat fee of say, $300, to mediate a divorce. But how much a mediation costs varies widely from couple to couple, and depends on many factors: how tired the people are, how hungry they are, what else is going on in their lives. Cost depends on how stubborn or cooperative either of them are. Some mediation goes quickly until folks reach an issue that neither will budge on. Others take a couple hours to reach the first agreement but agreements flow quickly after that. Sometimes circumstances change from horrible to great and vice versa.

What I can tell you is, the more patient people are, the less it will cost. The more people listen and think and the more creative people are the less it will cost. The more they focus on their kids or their families, the less it will cost. The more locked into thinking that they are always right, the more it will cost. If it’s a matter of pride not to give an inch, the more an agreement will cost, if they can get an agreement at all. Bad relationships don’t happen all at once, Neither do agreements and making things better.

If you haven’t been working together well, give mediation a chance. Learning or relearning to cooperate takes time. But cooperation can bring benefits for as long as you live. Even if you never see your ex again, and you never had kids together, a good divorce agreement can make the rest of your life easier. It may be the best financial decision you’ll ever make.

Minnesota Divorce: Mediation or Attorneys- Which Is Best?

In doing Minnesota divorce mediation, I often run into folks who’ve called a lawyer before they call me. Worse yet, they’ve paid a $2000-$5000 retainer to an attorney before contacting me. Perhaps the lawyer is already working zealously on their behalf, doing their job, but making a bad relationship with your ex worse. Below are my top 8 reasons for trying mediation before you hire an attorney.

1. Mediation works best before lawyers get involved
When lawyers start to work, they confront your ex via phone, email or letter. That puts them on the defensive; defensive people don’t settle or mediate very well.

2. Mediation is more expensive when you do it with attorneys
If you retain an attorney, often they’ll insist on mediating with you. That means paying half the mediation costs plus your attorney’s fees- often $400/hour or more total.

3. Mediation is less expensive than doing almost anything with attorneys
Attorneys talking back and forth to reach settlement takes time. Accusations, phone calls, meetings and drafting legal briefs might take 20 hours for each attorney. A mediated agreement without attorneys often can be finished in 10 hours, with a total cost much less than half the cost of hiring attorneys.

4. Attorneys are win/lose; mediation is win/win
In theory attorneys make a case for you; in practice attorneys usually make a case against your ex-partner, trying to prove they’re wrong, or bad parents. Mediation respects each of you.

5. Most people know their situation better than their attorneys do
I’ve spoken to many folks who regret involving attorneys. Simple problems become difficult. Complicated situations get even worse. It can take many months or years. When they finally settle, attorneys can ignore their clients wishes and make what they think is the right agreement, often without clients understanding.

6. Co-parenting is easier after mediation
I work with parents after divorce, too. With attorneys, each of your flaws is brought up, even before court. It can be embarrassing or humiliating. You remember forever all the bad things attorneys said. After all the mud-slinging, cooperation can be difficult or even impossible.

7. Mediation is an agreement that you make- not attorneys or a judge
Judges rule on the law, but even after court, they don’t know your situation like you do. When judges rule or attorneys decide often nobody’s satisfied. You’ll return repeatedly to court. If you mediate, you work out what’s best.

8. Mediation is less stressful
Honestly, mediation can be hard at times: both people need to be respectful and honest. But compare that to spending days in court listening to arguing attorneys, not knowing what will happen, and all the financial problems made worse because of attorney costs. A skilled mediator makes a divorce or separation without attorneys possible and because it’s your agreement, it stands the test of time. Mediation works!