Minneapolis Mediation/Cooperative Law Attorney
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution. Alternative dispute resolution means seeking a resolution to a dispute or conflict outside the traditional court system of hearings, trials and decisions by judges. In Minnesota, some form of alternative dispute resolution is generally required before or during the legal process.
Mediation can take different forms but basically it is a process that encourages parties to communicate about their sources of conflict and helps parties devise solutions to their sources of conflict. The purpose of mediation is not to determine who is “right” and who is “wrong,” but rather to provide a structured, protective and confidential environment where parties can talk openly about solutions without fearing that what they say or what they may be willing to consider as an agreement will be used against them should a court proceeding become necessary.
Mediators are neutral third parties trained to facilitate communication and help parties stay focused on resolution of disputed topics. A mediator is also bound by confidentiality to protect a candid and open process. A mediator has no stake in how the situation is resolved but rather is trained in part to help frame topics in a constructive manner, ask questions to promote discussions and seek the parties’ suggestions on ways to resolve their sources of disagreement. A skilled mediator can help facilitate agreements by achieving one of the most important goals of mediation: to have the parties listen to one another.
In her mediation practice with Dispute Resolution Services, Geri Napuck provides parties with the benefit of her 18 years experience as a family law attorney. While her role is that of a neutral as a mediator, her knowledge of family law can help guide discussions between the parties on a variety of topics. Most importantly, Geri understands that mediated solutions reached by the parties are more likely to provide parties and children with a blueprint to move forward positively rather than focusing on past sources of pain and disappointment.
Cooperative Law is a dispute resolution model where parties retain separate attorneys and sign an agreement establishing a specified negotiation process, typically before litigation begins or suspending litigation during negotiation. The focus is on negotiation to avoid litigation, if possible.
Although similar to Collaborative Law, the main difference between Cooperative Law and Collaborative Law is that the agreement signed by the parties and attorneys proceeding in Cooperative Law does not require the attorneys to withdraw from the case if a settlement is not achieved. Litigation remains a tool in Cooperative Law to resolving a case if, despite good faith efforts, an out of court settlement does not occur.
Both Cooperative Law and Collaborative Law are effective alternative dispute resolution methods and seek to provide clients with options for resolving cases in a more cost-effective way.
Early Case Management/Neutral Evaluation
In Minnesota, Early Case Management and Early Neutral Evaluation have significantly increased resolution of family law cases without the need for formal motions and trials. The success of these methods is assessing cases in the early stages, either before a case is filed or soon after a case is filed.
Early Neutral Evaluation in family law cases can address social issues such as parenting time, decision-making and custody and/or financial issues. An Early Neutral Evaluator must receive specialized and certified training through the Minnesota Judicial Branch to be qualified to conduct early neutral evaluations.
Social Early Neutral Evaluations (SENE's) are conducted by teams (two evaluators) who meet with the parties (with or without attorneys), listen to each party carefully and then offer a confidential recommendation on the likely outcome of the dispute based upon the team's experience in the family law area. The SENE can also be a forum for offering and discussing solutions to parenting disputes. Parties are not bound by the recommendations of the evaluators. All discussions and recommendations at a SENE are confidential. Unless an agreement results, the court cannot be informed of what was discussed or considered.
Geri Napuck is a certified Social Early Neutral Evaluator (SENE). She received this training to provide another tool for resolving family law cases at less financial and emotional cost.
Learn more about Minneapolis Family Law attorney Geri Napuck.
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