Lawyers located in Monticello, Minnesota, on the border of Wright and Sherburne Counties.

Mediation Services

Smith Paulson, O’Donnell & Erickson, PLC offer mediation services in the area of family law. The benefits of mediation include:

  • The parties control their own decisions
  • Because the decisions are their own, the parties are far more likely to comply with their final agreements. Post-divorce conflict, with potential litigation and additional costs, is less likely to occur
  • Mediation is faster than litigation
  • Mediation is less expensive than litigation

int_mediationAlternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) processes are alternative methods of helping people resolve legal problems before going to court. ADR involves an independent third person, called a “neutral” who tries to help resolve or narrow the areas of conflict. 

The use of ADR early in a case can result in the more efficient, cost-effective resolution of disputes with greater satisfaction to the parties. A great majority of the civil cases, including marital dissolutions (divorces), filed in Minnesota state courts are settled by using ADR. 

Since the early 1980’s, alternative methods have been developed to help people resolve legal problems, without resorting to litigation. These techniques, known as alternative dispute resolution (ADR), involve an independent third person or neutral who tries to help resolve or narrow the areas of conflict.  The use of ADR early in a case can result in the more efficient, cost-effective resolution of disputes with greater satisfaction to the parties.

A great majority of the civil cases, including marital dissolutions, filed in Minnesota State courts are settled without a trial.  Yet, most cases do not settle until after the parties and courts have spent a lot of time, money, and emotional energy, and the taxpaying public has borne a great deal of expense.

Minnesota courts recognize the effectiveness of ADR as a tool for settling conflicts.  In response, the courts provide parties and their attorneys, if represented, with ADR information when they file a civil case.  The parties must consider whether to use ADR to help resolve the dispute.

Rule 114 of the Minnesota General Rules of Practice describes the procedures for deciding whether to use ADR.  The Rule mandates the court provides parties with information on ADR. Parties are required to discuss the use of ADR and address this issue in the informational statement filed with the court. This does not mean parties are required to settle their differences through ADR. They are required, however, to at least discuss their differences with the neutral and attempt to resolve their differences prior to a trial.

Types of Alternative Dispute Resolution

Early Neutral Evaluation. (ENE).  A forum in which attorneys present the core of the dispute to a neutral evaluator in the presence of the parties.  This occurs after the case is filed but before Discovery (the formal process of gathering information pertinent to the pending litigation, which may include written interrogatories, document production and depositions) is conducted.

The neutral then gives a candid assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the case.  If settlement does not result, the neutral helps narrow the dispute and suggests guidelines for managing discovery.

Neutral Fact-Finding.  A forum in which a dispute, frequently one involving complex or technical issues, is investigated and analyzed by an agreed-upon neutral who issues findings and a non-binding report or recommendation.

Mediation.  A forum in which a neutral third party facilitates communication between parties to promote settlement.  A mediator may not impose his or her own judgment on the issues for that of the parties. 

Contact Smith Paulson O’Donnell & Erickson, PLC today to schedule your mediation session with our skilled mediators today.