So, you have selected your mediator, what happens next?

Your mediator should provide you with information about their fees and whether or not a sliding-fee scale is available for low income individuals.  Additionally, you should know whether or not your mediator can accommodate your individual needs like scheduling, telephone conferencing and accessibility.

After the mediator is chosen, the parties and mediator set up a time to meet.  Sometimes, the mediator and the attorneys (if there are any on the case) will briefly discuss the case prior to the mediation, so the mediator knows what the issues are.  The mediator will confirm whether or not the attorneys will attend the mediation or be available by telephone.

The key to a successful mediation is to select the professional who is experienced with your particular type of issue and then to prepare for the session ahead of time.  Your mediator might require you to provide a copy of your court order.  Your mediator might want you to fill out a form that describes the nature of the dispute and your goals for mediation.  Your mediator might ask you to fill out budgets or to bring financial documents to exchange with the other party.

The mediation itself is confidential from the court proceeding, meaning, what happens in mediation stays in mediation.  The mediator cannot testify in court unless the parties agree, or the mediator is required by law.

The mediator will not offer legal advice during the mediation – even if you mediator is also an attorney – in the role of a neutral, the mediator has no duty or obligation to provide legal advice or information.  The mediator will help to facilitate the discussion between the parties, and if agreements are made, will reduce those to writing.   It is important that you understand the agreements that you make and that you are willing to follow those agreements.  It is also important that you consult with an attorney to determine whether or not the agreements reached during should be drafted into a legally binding stipulation and entered with the court.

Stacy Wright is a Rule 114 Qualified Neutral for Family Law, and can assist in your Minnesota mediation needs.  Call: 763-244-1002 to schedule mediation today.

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