Sometimes, attorneys have no choice in the matter. Minnesota judges almost always refer contested marriage dissolution cases to mediation. Courts usually define “contested” as those cases where both the petition and respondent file paperwork. Mediation is a much more efficient use of judicial resources than trials.
Mediation has some tangible benefits for the litigants as well. However, not all divorce litigants see things the same way. In fact, most people think that divorce mediation will be a waste of time and money. If talking could have solved our problems, they reason, we would not have hired Minnesota divorce lawyers in the first place. Yet the vast majority of litigants resolve at least most of their issues during mediation. That successful track record is enough to make mediation worth a try. An effective Minnesota divorce lawyer raises the chances of success even higher.
How It Works
Most divorce trials are emotionally-charged events. As the testimony unfolds, all those old hurts and insecurities erupt. But mediation has a much different setting. These sessions usually occur in an office setting as opposed to a courtroom. There is no one in the gallery and there is certainly no jury. Instead of a judge, there is only a mediator. This person is usually either a retired family law judge or a Minnesota divorce lawyer who is unaffiliated with the case.
By design, the mediator knows almost nothing about the case when things get started. After each side gives a brief opening statement, they retire to separate rooms and basically cool their heels. Then, the mediator conveys settlement offers back and forth until the parties reach an agreement.
For example, Wife might insist that $2,000 a month in alimony is a reasonable amount according to the listed factors. Husband might argue that he can only afford to pay $1,000 a month once the tax law changes in January 2019. The mediator can explain these arguments to both sides and hopefully convince Husband and Wife to “split the baby” and agree on $1,500.
Benefit #1: Cost
Outcomes like this one are not unusual, largely because of the benefits of mediation. The first one is the cost savings.
In many cases, Minnesota divorce lawyers take cases to mediation before discovery is entirely complete. Discovery is usually the most expensive portion of a divorce trial. The shorter it is, the less money the parties spend on attorneys’ fees and other costs.
Furthermore, mediation means no witnesses to prepare, no evidence to refute, and only limited oral arguments. So, mediation requires much less preparation time for Minnesota divorce lawyers than a two or three-day trial.
The cost savings are not just financial. Most divorces are highly disruptive, to say the least. It is very difficult to focus at work when the divorce is in the background. Moreover, many litigants must take time away from friends and family to do divorce-related homework. Successful mediation ends things sooner, so everyone can get on with life.
Benefit #2: Civility
If the divorce involves minor children, and most contested divorces fall into this category, the parents must maintain a positive relationship. They do not need to be friends, but they do need to be able to work together and co-parent.
Mediation helps build that kind of relationship. Instead of “airing their dirty laundry” at a trial for everyone to see, mediation is a private affair wherein the parties focus on the issues. Mediation is often empowering as well. Many parents reason that if they talked out their problems once they can do so again.
Benefit #3: Control
Many people have issues accepting authority. It does not sit well when it appears that a judge has dictated conditions of divorce. These individuals may continue to fight the divorce informally, by doing things like skipping support payments or keeping the children away from the other parent.
Mediation gives litigants more control over the outcome. Even if they do not like the result, the fact that they had substantial input into the process is often very comforting. There is also some evidence that mediation increases voluntary compliance. That could mean fewer trips back to court for expensive and time-consuming motions to enforce.
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