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Divorce mediation can help spouses part ways amicably


Parents who share custody of their children require permission from their child’s other parent or the court to relocate out of state after divorce.

Divorce almost always involves some painful emotions and difficult choices, but that does not mean that it has to be destructive. Minnesota couples who want to end their marriages without unnecessary conflict and animosity often turn to mediation as a way to settle divorce-related issues like child custody, child support, spousal maintenance and the property division as peacefully as possible.

The basics of divorce mediation

Divorce mediation is a method of alternative dispute resolution that allows divorcing couples to negotiate their own solutions outside of the courtroom. Although divorce mediation is not right for everyone, it can often help spouses end their marriages in a way that is less combative, costly and time consuming than conventional litigation. Minimizing conflict during divorce can be especially beneficial for couples who wish to remain friends or who expect to have continued close contact with one another after the divorce due to shared co-parenting responsibilities, professional relationships or any other circumstances likely to result in ongoing contact.

Divorce mediation involves a single meeting or a series of meetings between the divorcing spouses and a neutral professional called a mediator. Spouses sometimes choose to have their attorneys present during part or all of the mediation sessions as well to help provide guidance and legal advice.

One of the most important differences between mediation and other forms of dispute resolution such as litigation or arbitration is that, in the mediation setting, the neutral third party is not the decision maker. Instead, the decision-making authority in divorce mediation is held by the spouses themselves. The mediator does not take sides or weigh in on the outcome, but instead facilitates communication between the spouses and helps provide structure to the negotiation process. The mediator may also raise creative solutions for consideration by the parties. If the spouses do not manage to reach an agreement through mediation, they can still choose to settle their disagreements through traditional methods in court.

Make a commitment to listen

Because the success of divorce mediation depends so heavily on communication between all of the parties involved, one of the most important things that divorcing spouses can do to get the most out of mediation is to listen. Only by listening carefully to one another’s objectives, concerns and suggestions is it possible to reach the common ground that is necessary to reach a mutually agreeable solution. While communicating with soon to be former spouse is not always easy, and some amount of tension is to be expected, the mediator is there to help bridge that gap as smoothly as possible. If both spouses are committed to making an effort in good faith, the rewards of divorce mediation can be substantial.

If you are considering divorce and would like to know more about mediation and other methods of alternative dispute resolution in Minnesota, contact the family law attorneys at Dougherty, Molenda, Solfest, Hills & Bauer, P.A. to arrange a consultation.