If you are thinking about divorce in Minnesota, you need to consider your options. If you and your soon-to-be-ex disagree about issues that may include property division, child custody, spousal support and more, you may be steeling yourself for the prospect of litigation.

For some divorcing couples, mediation can present a beneficial alternative. On the other hand, mediation can be counterproductive for some.

How it works

Mediation takes place before a neutral third party whose role is to help the couple communicate and present potential solutions. A mediator cannot make you agree to anything, and either party is free to abandon the process and return to litigation. Courts tend to encourage mediation because it reduces the burden on overloaded dockets.

Advantages

Generally, the mediation process is more streamlined than litigation. Scheduling tends to be easier and more flexible, and the process requires fewer formalities and less paperwork. Therefore, mediation can be quicker and less expensive than litigation.

A key benefit of mediation is the improved communication it can engender. It can be hard to discuss contentious matters with one’s ex while remaining calm. A mediator can help both parties define their goals and areas where they are open to compromise. Establishing a constructive communication style can be especially important for parents of young children, who have to continue to parent together for a long time.

Do you need a lawyer?

Even though mediation is not an adversarial process, it is still wise to have a reliable attorney at your side. The mediator cannot provide legal advice to either party. This role falls to your lawyer, who can also discuss potential consequences of agreeing to or rejecting particular solutions.

Who should avoid mediation?

People who feel unsafe with their ex may need to avoid mediation, as it can be harmful to them. If you suspect your ex of financial concealment or other types of deceit, mediation’s absence of extensive discovery may give him or her time to hide tracks. Additionally, mediation is unlikely to be effective when one party refuses to approach the process in good faith.