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Mediation Services

Metro Law & Mediation > Mediation Services

Meet Lori Brandon, Mediator

For over 25 years, Lori has served her clients with compassion and distinction. Her accomplishments in the legal field and community are numerous and speak volumes to her dedication and professionalism.  From her years working for the Minnesota State Courts and top firms in the State of Minnesota, Lori Brandon understands the complications your case may face and is there to ensure you are taken care of every step of the way.

 

“In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.”

– Albert Einstein

Mediation Processes

Your family matters! If you’re involved in a family law matter, which includes divorce, paternity, child custody, or child support, an unbiased mediator can help you resolve disputes outside of court, saving you both time and money.

 

What is a Mediator?

A mediator is an impartial person who facilitates discussion between the parties. The mediator does not represent either party and does not provide any legal advice. Although in most cases the Court will ask parties to participate in some form of alternative dispute resolution, mediation remains a voluntary process.

 

Mediation is Confidential

That’s right – your mediator cannot be called to testify in court on behalf of either party, so you have the ability to offer solutions in mediation that you might not be willing to accept if you are forced to go through the time and expense of a trial. These are just a few of the advantages of using mediation:

 

  • People most affected by decisions are in charge of the final outcome
  • Mediation allows for creativity and cooperation
  • Less costly than litigation (going to court to argue your case to a judge)
  • Minimizes or eliminates the need for an adversarial process
  • Takes less time than litigation
  • Considers needs of all family members while focusing on children’s best interests

 

 

But what if mediation doesn’t resolve every issue . . .

 

Many people do not realize there is a process available that is a combination of mediation and arbitration, more commonly referred to as Med-Arb. Parties can agree at the beginning to try to mediate their disagreements, and then if there are any unresolved issues, authorize the mediator to switch to the role of an arbitrator and issue a binding decision on the remaining issues.

 

This is still a less costly and more efficient way to resolve conflict compared to going to Court, because the mediator has the benefit of potentially many hours of hearing from the parties and learning about your family and its particular needs.

 

The Court calendars are usually very full, leaving judges a minimal amount of time to review your case and hear from your attorneys prior to issuing a decision. Our mediators are listed on the Minnesota Supreme Court Roster of qualified neutrals, and this means each mediator has also been qualified to work in a Med-Arb setting.

 

Think about it like this: do you want someone making decisions for your family that has only had time to get a brief snapshot of the issues or would you prefer that the person deciding has heard directly from you why a particular resolution is best for your family? If you chose the latter, then Med-Arb is probably a good choice for you to consider.

 

Do I Need an Attorney for Mediation?

 

In short, no. If people are represented by an attorney, the attorney is welcome to participate in the mediation, but that is not mandatory. In fact, when parties come to mediation on their own, they save money by only paying for the mediator’s fee, which is usually split equally between the parties.

 

If you bring an attorney, that lawyer’s fee will likely be paid 100% by you in addition to paying your portion of the mediator’s fee.

 

You Can Still Consult an Attorney

Please know that you will still have the opportunity, if you choose, to consult an attorney of your choosing following mediation with any questions or concerns you have before signing any type of mediated agreement.

 

We believe it is important for everyone to fully understand their legal rights and any ramifications of an agreement, and we encourage our mediation clients to seek out the proper professionals for advice, including attorneys, tax accountants, real estate professionals, etc.

 

Remember, the job of the mediator is to be neutral, not to serve as a subject-matter expert for only one of you regardless of the mediator’s degrees or background.

 

Do I Need an Active Court Case to Use Mediation?

No. In fact, one of the best times to come to mediation is before the Court is involved! Certainly, there are situations where you will want and/or need the Court to sign off on an Order and may be required to attend a Court hearing, but that doesn’t prevent you from using mediation to come to an agreement first.

 

For people who have already been to Court but have new issues arise, you probably already have something in writing from the Court telling you there is an expectation you will try to resolve the conflict before asking the Court for help.

 

Parenting Time Disputes

An excellent topic for mediation is parenting time disputes. These disputes could include issues such as:

  • Selection of a child’s school
  • A request to change the parenting time schedule
  • Concerns surrounding the introduction of a new significant other to children
  • Disagreements regarding a child’s schedule (activities, etc.)
  • Deciding an appropriate age to discontinue formal daycare for a child

 

Sometimes all you need is a couple hours with a mediator for everyone to be heard and for some creative problem solving to occur with the mediator’s assistance. Your agreements will be documented so everyone leaves on the same page, and you will have saved yourself the emotional and financial stress of litigation.

 

 

Family Business Mediation

We are fortunate to have many family-owned/operated businesses in our community. When relatives work together, there can be intense emotions among family members that interfere with the smooth functioning of the business.

 

Mediation is private and confidential. It is not a court proceeding. It is the mediator’s role to facilitate settlement of conflicts between parties. Family business mediation is not simply an expense; it is an investment in the business that may lead to financial gain for everyone over the long term.

 

 

Cabin Succession Planning

Many families share ownership of a cabin property, and over time, the interests in the property may change due to life events such as marriage, divorce, births, or deaths in the family. Ms. Brandon has received specialized training in mediating conflicts involving cabin governance and succession planning.

 

Remember, the success of any mediation depends on the willingness of the parties involved to engage in the problem-solving process. We are proud to have a success rate of over 90% with our mediation clients!

When is hiring Lori better than taking no action?

When the Court is ordering action.

When taking no action is interfering in other areas of your life such as work or school or causing health issues (not sleeping, anxiety or panic attacks, ulcer).

When you want to move forward or “just want the whole mess to be over”.

Why is hiring Lori better than taking action on your own?

Lori has been specially trained to facilitate conflict resolution.

Lori is not emotionally involved in the outcome; as a neutral she is able to see options you may not think about.

Lack of trust often plays a part in conflicts; the person you are fighting with is more likely to listen to a professional than to listen to you; people are more likely to resist the other person’s suggestion than the suggestion of a professional.

Why is hiring Lori worth the cost?

In mediation with Lori you have control over the final outcome; if you go to Court, you lose control over the outcome and potentially of the cost to you.

Lori can break issues down into bite-sized pieces that help create a clearer picture of where you’ve been and where you’re going.

Mediation can save you time and money in the long run, which means less stress and a quicker path to the fresh start you deserve.

What will Lori do to eliminate every ounce of hassle she can? How will Lori make hiring and working with her easier?

Lori offers flexible scheduling so there isn’t the added burden of taking off work.

Lori will provide clear expectations up front and provide advance information about what the process involves.

Lori will provide separate spaces for people to sit if needed to reduce anxiety.

Lori will offer set rates so the cost is predictable.

Lori will prepare summary documents within 7 days of a session so the process keeps moving forward; in many cases the time to receive summary documents is much faster than 7 days.

How will Lori ensure that hiring her doesn't increase the hassle of this conflict?

Lori will remain neutral and conduct sessions in a way that respects the people involved; “meet people where they are”.

Lori will stop the session if people are behaving inappropriately.

Lori will provide referrals to other resources, such as mental health providers, when people are looking for therapy and to attorneys when people need legal advice.

Lori will keep you focused on the issues and not on the emotions.

What are the risks of hiring Lori instead of doing nothing and what will Lori do to minimize or eliminate the risks?

There is a risk that mediation won’t end in a full agreement; Lori will encourage everyone involved to keep an open mind.

There is a risk that you will still need to go to court; Lori will commit to offering med-arb as an option to going to court.

There is a risk you might have to move on with your life; Lori will provide referrals to other professionals to help you make the transition to your new “reality” or “normal”; Lori can highlight the advantages to moving on rather than focusing on the past.

What else is provided in mediation with MLM?

We can provide “add-ons” like the Sesame Street DVD information, resource sheets, or discounts.

We can let people know that if they go to Court there will still be a requirement for ADR, so they might as well take that step first.

We can provide a handout showing the cost differences between litigation and mediation so people see the benefit to them of spending money on mediation.

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