What to Bring to Mediation

Clients often ask me, “What do I bring to mediation?”

My answer is, eventually you bring everything: anything that proves the amounts of salary, assets, retirement accounts etc. But not right away.

The most important thing to bring to mediation is yourselves, in a reasonable shape to mediate. That means sleeping well (if possible), don’t come in after pulling an all-nighter, and make sure you’re not hungry. Be as calm as you can be. Meditate, exercise, pray and anything else that you can do to get in a good frame of mind. If you react so strongly to anything your ex says that you can’t listen well, it will be a longer, slower process or at worst, unworkable. Staying calm is the key. I can help with that! Be respectful. Not being respectful is a waste of time together, the money you are spending to mediate, and could even “torpedo” the mediation.

The other thing to bring is a list of agreements and issues. Agreements are those things, if any, that you two have already worked out. Issues are problems you have to solve. Don’t come to mediation with solutions to the problems only one of you has worked out or agrees with. The more attached to a particular solution to an issue, the less likely you will look at other possible solutions that will work as well, or perhaps even better. Usually it’s a combination of solutions that solves the problems.

If you have a lot of agreements, great!. If you don’t, don’t despair. Chances are, I can help you get there.


Holidays and Mediation


The holidays are coming and when they do, lots of family gatherings come, too. The holidays can have an effect on mediation: some folks try to ignore the tension and the coming split, until they can get through the season.

A tense situation in a family can also affect the holidays. It is MUCH harder to eat and celebrate with someone when there is tension just below the surface. Anything, everything, can remind you of the issues yet to be resolved. It is also much harder when your family is quizzing you about what’s happening in your relationship.

That’s when mediation can help. Even though it takes energy to work out differences during the holidays, progress towards a resolution can feel good, and many of my clients will spend some time talking about the holidays, kids and families so it can be less stressful. Mediation during the holidays can make enjoying the holidays POSSIBLE, without a cloud hanging over your head.

My work as an ER chaplain has taught me things. One of the things working with families who are stressed has taught me is this: Even bad news is often easier to handle than uncertain news. We humans hate uncertainty. With uncertainty about the future, your mind dances around and tries to ponder a thousand possibilities, good and bad. When certainty comes, you can begin to make plans about what comes AFTER. Mediation brings certainty. Instead of wondering through the holidays about where the relationship is going and how much it will cost you will know. If someone asks you about your relationship you can say, “We’re in mediation, we want to do what is best for ourselves and for our kids.

Mediation is self-empowering. You are doing something to help your situation, rather than wandering about in a wilderness of pain, hoping for the best outcome, but fearing the worst. You won’t have to have a judge decide your case. You can. Mediation works, especially during the holidays.

Spring is Here. Time For a Fresh Start. Divorce Mediation Can Help!

Hello Again!

This is the time of year many people decide to move on after a hard winter, including an April blizzard! If you’re thinking about divorce, or separating from your significant other, divorce mediation or separation mediation can help.

You can mediate with attorneys, but mediation without attorneys is much cheaper. Here’s how it goes:

Meet with me for a free consultation
Sign an agreement to mediate with me.
Solve your problems
Move on.

Now things are not quite that simple, but I can help you if you have worked most of your separation out, or if you haven’t a clue how to start. I can help you with techniques for separating money, possessions, and how to work out schedules for children and even pets. I know what works and what doesn’t work.

If you can’t even talk without arguing, I can help you establish ground rules, meet in separate rooms temporarily and in difficult cases I can shuttle back and forth; you can even meet at different times.

I am available to meet with you at a location near where you are, and I generally meet in easier 1-2 hour sessions, not marathon “do-it-or die” sessions. You get a chance to review what you decided before you agree to anything. I will make certain you understand what you agreed to, and how it may affect you and your relationship with you ex and with the kids if you have any.

I am here to serve. Make things easier on yourself and your kids! Call me! 612 670-7980 or


More Late Winter Musings about Mediation and Parenting Consulting

Greetings from a snowy April 4!

I know on the calendar it’s spring, but with 10 inches of new snow yesterday and a temp of 8 degrees, it’s still winter in Minnesota!

It has been a hard winter, and one which tests the patience of everyone. But if you are considering an end to a relationship it is especially hard. Just when you’d like to move out and move on, the weather makes that more difficult. When the snow melts for good, I get flooded with folks wanting mediation and parenting consulting. Right now, I could get you in for mediation next week, but with calls coming in, soon I may not be able to schedule for mediation or parenting consulting as quickly.

People sometimes ask me how I can mediate or consult with couples who disagree so much. Parenting consulting is easier, because if I have to, I can make a decision and it usually works well. But mediation is trickier, so I have to use ground rules that either I have, or a couple makes up and agrees to. When couples agree on ground rules together, that is the first step toward a successful mediation.

Mediation and parenting is easier with my help. I can help folks and their kids to a better life!

Spring is Almost Here. It’s Mediation Season!

It’s been a long, snowy winter here in Minnesota and many couples are feeling a bit testy. Or more than a bit. Every couple has issues, and issues don’t always have to lead to divorce and divorce mediation. Many issues can be resolved on your own without a mediator, if you are willing and able to communicate.
Many people in troubled marriages can’t communicate, or at least, not without help. That’s where I come in. I can help couples work things out so they don’t divorce. In cases where folks are simply not compatible any more (if you ever were), I can help you divorce amicably, affordably and relatively painlessly. For you folks who have never married, I can help, too. I can help you work out a child custody agreement that you can get signed into law by a judge or referee.

Conflict in relationships is almost never easy. I can help. Marriage mediation, divorce mediation and child custody issues I have lots of experience with. Do you need a parenting time expediter (PTE) or a parenting consultant, or even a custody evaluator and a full custody evaluation? I can do that too.
I can simply be someone to help you reach decisions with no other help from
me, or I can put my years of drafting agreements to use for you, with dozens of suggestions of what might work well for you, and what won’t work well for you or your children (do not exchange a baby month-by-month and expect him or her to have a good relationship with both parents). I know what works for you, and more importantly, I know what can work for your kids. Call me!612-670-7980 or 507-269-9079.

I can come to you for mediation. And you will get things done!

Divorce and Summer Schedules.


I want to talk to you today about divorce, separation, mediation and summer schedules.

The first thing to know is that according to Minnesota law (and I would guess most states), in a divorce the most important concern is the children (if you have any together). That means that if something is helpful for the kids and inconvenient for you, the kids come first. For example, at a young age, it is better for kids to see their father or mother more often for less time than less often for more time. This may seem intuitive, and yet I had a case where the parents were exchanging a baby every other month, and drove 500 miles.That’s crazy. for babies several times a week are most helpful for good bonding with each parent

I urge you to work out a schedule that works for the children as much as possible. Do what you can, even if it means the driving division is not even. Maybe one parent is unwilling or unable to transport the children to an activity. Best for the child to simply do the transportation and understand that you are helping the children move forward and heal. Isn’t such healing worth a little of your time? Yes, it can get annoying when one parent can’t or won’t step up to responsibility and yet you are still helping your kids at a difficult time for them. get help from me to work out visitation schedules and parenting time if you can’t do it yourselves.

Having said that, summer is a usually time of less stress for kids: less (or no) school, less homework, fewer activities etc. So kids can tolerate irregular or late schedules better. Summer is often the best time for longer vacations or for one parent who had less time during the school year to “catch up.” make up your summer schedules carefully and wisely and your kids will thank you for it, and reward you with happy stress-free memories and solid growth.

Happy Parenting!

Minnesota Qualified Neutral

Suitable Candidates for Mediation

When is a person not suited to mediation? Various Chemical dependency and mental health issues come to mind. If a person is so locked in their position that they will not consider any alternatives then mediation should not be encouraged. Unfortunately, people are ordered to mediation and at times they are following court orders without any real intent. Often I will ask people if they are open to changing their position, for if they are not, mediation is a waste of time.

Even in evaluative meditation a party can be so locked in that they cannot change. Typically this is when they are emotionally stuck. Occasionally I get people whose egos are on the line so that compromise or change is tough. There can be circumstances with parents where they promise to do their best to their kids so would feel the need to exhaust every avenue so they can say to themselves or their kids “I tried my best.”

It is too bad then as often it is the parties and kids who suffer.



Holy Week, Easter and church fights

Strangely enough, Holy Week is not a week for church fights in most places. Simply put, the people in church who love being traditional are too busy preparing and helping with Easter breakfasts, commuinion, music, footwashing etc.. Working together to ┬ámake sure the traditions get done well (in the traditional style) generally takes precedence over any conflict. Sometimes after Easter, sadly, ┬áthe conflicts come back as if the togetherness of Holy Week had never existed. Miost times, though, church conflict will fade away as winter fades. By summer very little activity, including conflict, occurs in most churches. Summer is a season for working in the garden, going to the lake etc. and any conflict then is most often handled quickly and easily or the damage has already been done and pastor or others are on their way out. In rare cases the conflict reemerges in fall when people return to church after “Rally” Sunday or the first Sunday School day in the fall.

These patterns are especially pronounced in small rural congregations where summer is a time of feverish activity outside church.