Welcome to MCS

Questions & Answers

If you didn't find the answer to your question(s) on another page, you might find it here. Click on the question below to be directed to that question and answer. Or, scroll down to read the entire list.

1.What problems are right for mediation?
2. What problems are not right for mediation?
3. How much does mediation cost?
4. How do I start a mediation?
5. What do mediators do?
6. Are mediators lawyers?
7. What qualifications do mediators have?
8. Do mediators tell us how to solve the problem?
9. What happens during a mediation session?
10. How long does mediation take?
11. Can I bring other people with me to the mediation session(s)?
12. Can I talk to a mediator in private during the mediation?
13. Are mediations confidential?
14. Can a mediator be called to testify in court?
15. Can information shared during mediation be used in court?
16. What does "alternative dispute resolution" mean?
17. How is arbitration different from mediation?
18. Can you help me if I want to solve a dispute, but the other person and I can't even be in the same room together?
19. What happens if we don't come to a decision?

What problems are right for mediation?

The information below is described in more detail on the page "Mediation issues." Click here to be redirected to that page
Families: visitation schedules, school or extracurricular-activity decisions, household rules, communications, grandparents' roles
Finances: deciding who pays for shared items
Landlords and tenants: over-due repair or rent, discrimination
Neighbors: barking dogs, fence placement, yard clean up, house repairs
Employers, employees, co-workers: performance, discrimination, sharing office space
Businesses: partnership changes, mission and vision conflicts, quality issues, cost of goods or services, personnel issues
Elders: care-giving, downsizing household property, estate issues, nursing-home decisions
Students: truancy, bullying, classroom behavior or other issues affecting school performance


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What problems are not right for mediation?

Some issues cannot be mediated and other issues make mediation very difficult. Examples of these are when In addition, Minnesota law says that community mediation programs cannot handle disputes: If you have questions about whether your dispute is right for mediation, call us. We'll tell you if we can help.


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How much does mediation cost?

The fees at Mediation & Conflict Solutions are based on a sliding scale. So you pay what you can afford to pay. If we believe mediation could help you, our staff will talk to you about our fees. In order to accurately determine the fee, we will need to know how much money you earn. Your answers are always confidential with MCS! And remember, with mediation, there are no court or legal fees. So you could save hundreds or thousands of dollars when compared to filing a lawsuit.


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How do I start a mediation?

If you are having a disagreement with someone, you can call or email Mediation & Conflict Solutions and ask for assistance in solving the problem. We'll ask a few questions, including information about how to contact you, and we'll listen carefully to decide if we can help. If we can, we'll contact the other people involved and explain how we work. If everyone voluntarily agrees to mediation, we'll arrange a meeting at a neutral place with our trained mediators.


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What do mediators do?

Mediators are specially trained to:
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Are mediators lawyers?

No, mediators do not need to be lawyers. Mediators have had special training to lead a non-judgmental meeting process that helps people work together to negotiate a solution to a shared problem. Mediators cannot offer legal advice.


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What qualifications do mediators have?

All mediators are required to attend 30 hours of Civil Mediation training, which is certified by the Minnesota Supreme Court. Mediators in family law cases require additional certified Family Mediation and Domestic Abuse training. All mediators must attend continuing education classes to remain qualified.


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Do mediators tell us how to solve the problem?

No. Mediators do not provide legal advice, tell you what to do, or make decisions for you. But mediators can offer problem-solving techniques for you to use.


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What happens during a mediation session?

Mediation & Conflict Solutions usually uses teams of two qualified mediators who are assigned by our office during the scheduling process. To begin the session, the mediators will explain the rules for the discussions. Then, each person describes the problem from his or her point of view. The mediators may ask questions to get clarification or more information. Everyone participating is expected to show respect for the other people involved. The mediators will help each person understand the disagreement through the eyes of the other participants. Keeping the communication flowing smoothly and helping the participants solve the dispute themselves are the mediator's goals.

Unlike a judge, a mediator will not make decisions for you. If an agreement can be reached during this session, it will be written down and signed by everyone participating. If the problem cannot be solved during that meeting, typically a convenient date will be chosen to continue the mediation.


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How long does mediation take?

The length of a mediation depends on your dispute or conflict. Most of the cases we mediate are settled in a two-hour session. Occasionally, one or more additional sessions are needed.


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Can I bring other people with me to the mediation session(s)?

Interpreters and family members directly involved in the dispute are always welcome. Sometimes you can bring a person to support you, too, but typically they are only observers; they do not directly participate in the mediation. People on both sides of the dispute have to agree on the list of participants and observers. So you must notify us ahead of time if you want to bring any additional people to the mediation session. It's important for the people directly involved in the dispute to be able to focus on the conflict without distractions.


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Can I talk to a mediator in private during the mediation?

Yes, during the mediation you may ask to speak with the mediators in private; this meeting is called a caucus. Mediators also have the right to initiate a caucus with you, and/or they might caucus with each other. If the mediators caucus with you, they will caucus with the other person, too.


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Are mediations confidential?

Yes, only the people directly involved know what is said during mediation, beginning with the initial intake process and discussion about finances and the sliding fee scale. None of this information or the mediation discussions can be used as evidence in court, if a lawsuit becomes necessary in the future. These protections are important and necessary to ensure open and frank conversation during mediation.


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Can a mediator be called to testify in court?

No.


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Can information shared during mediation be used in court?

No.


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What does "alternative dispute resolution" (ADR) mean?

Alternative Dispute Resolution refers to any means of settling disputes outside of the courtroom. ADR typically includes arbitration, mediation, early neutral evaluation, and conciliation. Some of these programs are voluntary; others are mandatory. The two most common forms of ADR are arbitration and mediation.


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How is arbitration different from mediation?

Arbitration is a simple version of a trial. There are no fact-finding or evidence-gathering activities before the arbitration date, and there are simple rules of evidence. An arbitrator hears both sides of the dispute and makes a decision for you. Mediators are individuals trained in techniques to bring people involved in a dispute together. They attempt to work out a settlement or agreement that everyone can accept. Mediation is based on the notion of self-determination ? that you should decide how to solve the problem rather than having an arbitrator decide for you.


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Can you help me if I want to solve a dispute, but the other person and I can't even be in the same room together?

Mediation usually works best when people sit down together to work out their differences. However, sometimes there are power imbalances or other factors that could cause the mediators to meet with you and the other person(s) separately. This is often called a "shuttle mediation." If possible, though, the goal is to get people to meet together.


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What happens if we don't come to a decision?

If the mediators believe that a solution is not likely to be reached during your mediation, they may ask you to set a date to meet again. If the mediators believe that a solution is not likely to be reached at all, they will explain other choices you may have to reach a solution. After the mediation process is complete, you will receive a letter from MCS stating that you attempted to mediate but were unable to reach a solution.


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For more information about mediation and Mediation & Conflict Solutions, please use the links above.