When couples try to resolve family disputes without resorting to litigation, they consider Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). ADR comprises a few different methods that can be used in specific scenarios for addressing disputed family law issues. Three of the most common ADR methods are:
- Mediation: In mediation, a neutral third-party works with the parties to facilitate an agreement. While a family law mediator can be an attorney, this person is prohibited from advising on legal matters while serving as a mediator.
- Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE): Early Neutral Evaluation is similar to mediation but it results in the parties receiving an evaluative opinion from an experienced professional as to the outcome of their case if they go to court.
- Collaborative Law: In contrast with mediation, each party hires an attorney in the collaborative law process. The parties commit to settling their case outside of court and may use a financial neutral, child specialist, or a mediator to assist in reaching a resolution.
How a Family Law Attorney Works as a Mediator
Mediation is not restricted to settling divorce cases but is also used as a preventive tool for future conflicts. In the process of mediation, a family law mediator first works to understand the dispute.
Before mediation, it is common for each party to submit documents to the mediator and to the other party. In a divorce, these documents may include tax returns, bank statements, financial declarations, and a list of debts and assets. If the partners have minor children and don’t agree to a parenting plan, they may also submit a proposed parenting plan to the mediator.
The family law mediator then meets with the parties to discuss the issues in the case and move to the common ground where problem-solving may take place.
When the partners agree on the outcome, an agreement is drafted and signed by both partners as well as the family law mediator. It is important to remember that the mediated agreement is nota final court order and that a mediator cannot draft the final court order or provide legal advice. An attorney is necessary for that next step unless the parties choose to draft the legal documents on their own.
Why Mediation Is a Preferred Way of Resolving Family Disputes
Mediation is a party-centered process which focuses on the needs and interests of the partners. The family law mediator works to lead discussions in a constructive way, encouraging both parties to participate equally in the process.
Mediation is often an effective way to resolve differences because parties get a chance to arrive at decisions through mutual cooperation and understanding that naturally leads to compromise. Mediation offers spouses an opportunity to reach an agreement without having to go to court, which can be more stressful and costly.
A St. Paul, Minnesota Family Law Attorney Working on Mediation Cases
If you or your spouse reside in Minnesota and are looking to schedule a mediation with an experienced family law attorney, turn to Allison Maxim of Maxim Smith. Allison Maxim is an experienced family law mediator and ready to help you resolve personal differences through mediation – family law mediation St.paul MN and collaboration – collaborative divorce St.paul MN.