Not all Minnesota divorce and family law cases need to be resolved through an expensive litigation process. In fact, alternative dispute resolution methods are often the best vehicle to resolve some of the most challenging family law issues presented. During the alternative dispute resolution process, both parties work to reach productive agreements on various issues with the assistance of their counsel. These methods can greatly reduce legal fees, resolution time, and anxiety for all parties involved.
Through the use of Early Neutral Evaluations (ENE) and other alternative dispute resolution (ADR) processes, clients often reach superior outcomes in everything from child custody to property division in a more cost-efficient and timely manner. An understanding of the various alternative dispute resolution methods available is the first step in choosing which option is right for you. The attorneys at Arnold & Rodman PA have experience resolving cases through a variety of alternative dispute resolution methods and can help find the right fit for your specific situation.
Mediation & Early Neutral Evaluations
In Minnesota, mediation is a voluntary, non-binding process aimed at resolving family law disputes. The process is relatively simple: the parties (and possibly their attorneys) meet with a neutral mediator who attempts to facilitate a positive resolution of the outstanding issues by discussing potential ideas for settlement and sometimes providing evaluative opinions about potential outcomes. In Minnesota, mediation is confidential, meaning that the mediator cannot be called to testify about what was said or admitted to during mediation. As a result, parties can generally feel comfortable taking positions on issues they would otherwise not take if the issue were litigated before the court. The process is also non-binding, meaning there is no pressure to reach a settlement and no consequences for not settling, other than having to litigate the issue in court. While the mediator cannot offer legal advice to either party, they will direct both parties to consult with an attorney before making a final decision on a proposed settlement.
Early Neutral Evaluations, or ENEs, are a relatively new form of alternative dispute resolution for Minnesota divorce cases. This process is intended to occur early on in a case before the parties have spent considerable sums of money on litigation and before they may have become too entrenched in their respective positions. The goal of an Early Neutral Evaluation is to allow both parties, with the assistance of their attorneys, if any, to present their positions on various issues to a neutral evaluator or evaluators, who then offer their professional opinion on how they believe a court will decide on such issues. The process can be very helpful in resolving disputes as it can change unrealistic expectations of one or both parties. Once the opinion is rendered, the evaluators act as mediators and attempt to facilitate a settlement of the outstanding issues. Like mediation, this process is voluntary, non-binding, and confidential.
Mediation and Early Neutral Evaluations are two of the various options for Minnesota alternative dispute resolution. For more information on these or other alternative dispute resolution methods, please see our family law blog entries or contact our office at 952-955-8008.
Lawyers Focused on Solutions
While settlement through alternative dispute resolution methods may seem impossible, particularly in difficult cases, the fact is many parties that appear unlikely to settle can reach an agreement with the help of a skilled mediator, truly focused on finding solutions. The mediators at Arnold & Rodman PA can help identify common interests and goals between adverse parties, allowing litigants to realize they have more to gain by working together than working against each other, especially when the best interests of children are at stake.