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Reaching common ground on any settlement issue is one of the greatest challenges that couples face in the heat of an emotionally-charged divorce. Extreme divorce disputes can easily lengthen the divorce process while doing little to create settlement terms that serve both parties fairly. In some cases, highly personal settlement issues end up in the hands of an impersonal judge.

With extensive experience in alternate dispute resolution and family counseling, our Minneapolis divorce attorneys provide the guidance needed to allow our clients to reach fair agreements before going to court. Recognizing the importance of efficiency in the divorce process, however, the Minnesota courts also provide tools to help with this effort.

Case Management Conferences May Be the First Step in MN Divorce Courts

In Minnesota, most courts use Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE) and Early Case Management (ECM) processes to help ensure that divorcing couples can settle their financial and child-related issues relatively quickly and without undue costs. For those counties that support these processes, the first court date is used to hold an Initial Case Management Conference (ICMC), which gives the judge an idea of where the settlement issues stand.

The ICMC generally proceeds as follows:

  • Both parents exchange data sheets so they can share financial and other information with each other while introducing the judge to the facts of the case.
  • The parties share information about any issues that have already been resolved, along with those in need of resolution — and any processes that might be underway to resolve those issues.
  • When appropriate, the judge may share information about the ECM process and how the courts can intervene to help settle issues that remain in dispute.

While most Minnesota courts have instituted the ICMC as a required first step for divorcing spouses and their attorneys, the tools offered to resolve disputes are optional and at the discretion of both parties.

Earlier Conflict Resolution Saves More Time and Money

The efforts of the Minnesota courts to reduce the time and money spent on contentious issues are admirable, especially since they serve to help develop agreements that are fair to the entire family. However, the parties of divorce are even better served when they arrive at the ICMC with the ability to tell the judge that all issues have been fully resolved.

Our Minneapolis divorce lawyers are dedicated to helping clients resolve their most challenging issues before the court date arrives. Our achievements as mediators — and our work in court-appointed early neutral evaluation — places us in a good position to provide valuable assistance. Call us at (763) 783-5146 or use our convenient contact form to learn how we can help our clients reach an agreement even when the issues initially seem insurmountable.