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A Motion filed by either parent (order to show cause or notice of motion) brings the custody and/or parenting time case before the Court. The Court refers the case to Domestic Relations for Custody and Parenting Time Mediation and/or a Custody Evaluation.
Parents are scheduled for an individual orientation appointment by the Domestic Relations Family Court Officer assigned to their case. Parents appear at Domestic Relations jointly for their appointment. Mediation is free.
Mediation is usually a series of 1-3 two-hour meetings between disputing parents and a neutral third person (Family Court Officer specially trained in mediation). The mediator’s goal is to assist the parents in reaching agreement about custody and/or parenting time. The mediator's goal is to facilitate meaningful communication between the parties that is respectful and ultimately results in an increased understanding of the opposing parties position.
In mediation parties will try to negotiate. Each party will present their proposal for custody and/or parenting time in turn, and will try to reach agreement in the best interest of the children. Do consider your children’s ages, temperament, and developmental stage, and parental roles after re-structuring the family.
Mediation times can vary, please allow a minimum of 1-1/2 hours (and time for parking). Typically there is one mediation session, but further sessions may be possible if significant progress is being made towards an agreement and both parents, and the mediator agree to additional time.
Mediations are scheduled at Domestic Relations between 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., Monday – Friday. The office closes at 4:30 p.m. Please report to reception- Suite 655 (6th floor – one below entry from main entrance on Kellogg Blvd. Map It) a few minutes before your schedule appointment. Let the receptionist know your name and the name of your mediator (Family Court Officer). If you live a considerable distance from St. Paul, you may request mediation by speaker phone with the mediator and other party at Domestic Relations.
Only you and the other party attend mediation. Please do not bring friends, current significant other, spouse, relatives, or your attorney to the mediation. (unless previously agreed upon in advance by both parents and Domestic Relations).
Mediation is confidential (MN statute Rule 114). However, if in the course of medication the mediator hears about abuse or neglect of the child, or hears of a parent intending to harm him/herself or another, the mediator is mandated to make a report to the Child Protection or Law Enforcement.
Parenting Plans must include, by statute, a schedule; decision-making authority; and a dispute resolution method. During Mediation, the parents will need to discuss the details of the parenting plan – detailing what times each parent will be responsible for the children and any child care arrangements. The parenting plan proposal needs to be detailed, Monday through Friday, weekends, holidays and special days, winter break, spring break and summer vacation.
The parents will also need to decide on the transportation arrangements and the location of the exchange of the children.
Many parents find it helpful to write down their proposal and bring it to the mediation – be realistic, even the best plan will not work if it is not possible to carry it out! Bring more than one proposal just in case.
Children experience anxiety, distress and insecurity during separation. Expect some changes in your child and stay focused on how to help your child adjust.
For more information on special situations, what parents can do to help, parenting time suggestions, Read the complete "A Parental Guide to Making Child-Focused Parenting Time Decisions" - Prepared by the Minnesota Supreme Court Advisory Task Force on Visitation and Child Support Enforcement.
When the parents agree about custody and the parenting plan, the mediator will write up the details and send a copy to each parent, and attorney, if represented. Each parent will then have 10 days to review the agreement. If there are any concerns about the agreement during this time, one or both of the parents must contact the mediator who will try to help resolve the issue(s).
If the agreement is acceptable, the mediator will forward it to the court. If either party has an attorney, the attorney is responsible for providing the court with a stipulation – a formal agreement signed by all parties which then becomes an order. If neither parent has an attorney, the parents will return to court and the Referee or Judge will ensure that the parties understand their agreement, and make their stipulation an Order of the Court.