Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) that helps people going through divorces and other family law matters. The mediator is a neutral person who helps the parties find common ground and reach a settlement in a safe environment. The process is voluntary, and it requires openness and willingness to participate. Family Lawyer Louise Livesay is an experienced family law mediation attorney who has helped many people find amicable paths through their divorces in Minnesota. If you and your spouse want to craft a mutually-agreeable resolution, Louise is available to provide support as a mediator.
What Is Mediation?
Mediation is a form of guided negotiation. Minnesota Court Rules define it as “a forum in which a neutral third party facilitates communication between parties to promote settlement.” The parties to any type of dispute can use mediation to work out a settlement.
Divorce mediation is a common way for spouses to avoid the combative side of divorce. A divorce mediator can identify the key issues that need attention and can help the spouses find settlement options that would benefit both of them.
The process works best when both spouses agree to work together with the mediator to find mutually agreeable outcomes on all of the disputes in their divorce. They must both be completely open about important information, such as income, assets, and debts.
What Does a Mediator Do?
A mediator receives training in conflict resolution. In order to serve as a divorce mediator, an individual must receive additional training in issues specific to divorce and other family law disputes, including:
- The psychology of divorce and separation;
- How divorce can affect children;
- Family economics; and
- Minnesota family laws relating to divorce, including property division, child support, child custody and visitation, and spousal support.
An individual does not need to be a licensed attorney to be a mediator, but legal education and experience can be an enormous benefit in many disputes. This is especially true for divorce mediation. A divorce mediator who is also a family lawyer has experience in and knowledge of Minnesota’s family laws, its court system, and the types of questions judges are likely to ask about divorce settlement agreements.
One of the most important aspects of a mediator’s job is neutrality. A mediator will not take sides in a dispute. A family attorney who serves as a divorce mediator cannot give legal advice to either spouse involved in a mediation because they are not representing the clients. The mediator focuses on helping both clients identify their needs and concerns, identifying issues and gathering necessary information, managing communication and conflict, and finding ways to help them reach agreements on important issues.
What Should I Expect in a Divorce Mediation?
In a divorce or post-divorce mediation with family law mediation attorney Louise Livesay, Louise will meet with each of you in an individual session to prepare for mediation and then schedule joint 2-hour sessions to work towards settlement. She will begin by helping you identify the issues that you need to resolve and what documents you need to gather. Then she helps you develop options for division of assets, cash flow and parenting issues so she can then facilitate the negotiations on the issues to reach settlement.
Louise is committed to making sure each party in a divorce mediation feels heard and understood. Each of you will have opportunities to state what you want and to suggest compromises. Louise is skilled at reframing issues in ways that help parties see things from one another’s point of view. She can then help you develop settlement options that can work for both of you. Understanding what each of you thinks is fair and why it is important, because what is “fair” can mean different things to each of you. Understanding what interests drive your sense of fairness can help break impasse.
Once you reach an agreement, Louise will assemble a summary of agreements and documents that can facilitate the drafting of the final decree of divorce. Because she is an attorney, she knows what is needed for drafting the final legal documents but as a mediator, she does not draft the legal documents. If you have children and you do not want to appear in court, Minnesota will require that you each have attorneys signing off on the court documents. Louise can direct you to attorneys who will support your work in mediation to complete the final steps.
What Are the Advantages of Mediation in a Divorce Case?
Divorce mediation presents many advantages over a more traditional, litigious divorce.
A Quicker Resolution
The divorce mediation process consists of scheduled meetings with you, your spouse, and the mediator. You could achieve a settlement after only one or a few meetings, depending on the complexity of your issues and readiness to make decisions. You are not subject to court schedules and other factors that can slow divorce cases down.
When you let a mediator help you resolve your disputes, you do not have to spend time preparing for court appearances. You do not have to pay attorney’s fees for all of that time. Attorneys can be used as needed and to draft the court documents. Louise knows attorneys who will provide good guidance if and when needed and focus on respectful resolution.
An Amicable Resolution
A divorce case in Minnesota is, in essence, a lawsuit between two spouses. Our court system is not built to promote the peaceful, respectful settlement of disputes, unfortunately. Lawsuits are usually a matter of “winning” and “losing.” Divorce is not like that for most people.
Divorce mediation helps you avoid the sort of conflict that is built into our courts. A mediator can guide you toward an amicable, mutually agreeable outcome that allows you to transition to a new stage of your life.
Control Over the Process and the Result
Divorce mediation puts you and your spouse in control of the process and outcome. You make the important decisions, and you have the final say over the terms of your settlement. You are not bound by decisions that a judge makes for you. Under Minnesota law, anything said or offered during a mediation is confidential, allowing everyone to speak freely.
The Transition from Marriage to Co-Parenting
If the parties to a divorce have children, their relationship will not end when a judge grants the divorce. They will continue to work together as parents. Divorce mediation eases the transition from “married couple” to “co-parents” by helping them resolve disputes without unnecessary conflict and establish new boundaries and expectations around parenting.
Louise Livesay is a family law mediation attorney who has helped families in the Twin Cities area resolve disputes for over twenty years. She is dedicated to using Minnesota’s family laws to assist her clients in transforming their relationships. If you have questions about divorce mediation, collaborative law, or another family law issue, please contact us today online or at (651) 964-3887.
Louise also offers a comprehensive workbook package called Our Family In Two Homes. This innovative and practical resource package combined with Louise's guidance is designed to help families work through the process of transition to life after divorce.