Practice Areas > Family Law > PTE / Mediation


Parenting Time Expeditor (PTE)

A Parenting Time Expeditor (PTE) may be empowered to enforce, interpret, and clarify existing parenting time orders or addresses circumstances not specifically addressed by an existing parenting time order. The Parenting Time Expeditor's role may be defined and/or limited by the parties who request a PTE or by a court that makes a such an appointment on its own. How the Parenting Time Expeditor's role is defined may often be a product of the types of conflicts that the parents have encountered historically.

• Is one parent planning on denying the other parenting time during a scheduled vacation of holiday?
• Is one parent signing the children up for too many extracurricular activities or otherwise interfering in parenting time?
• Who takes the children to those activities? Who pays?
• What if the activity cuts into parenting time?
• Is there a basis to modify the parenting schedule?
• Does the child need certain medical care?
• Should the parents be offered a right of first refusal before someone else cares for the child?
• Should a parent be offered compensatory parenting time when time has been denied?

These are all issues that can be resolved by a Parenting Time Expeditor if the Court order empowers the expeditor to resolve such disputes.

A Parenting Time Expeditor may be appointed to resolve disputes continuously into the future, or for a defined period, or even on a one time issue.

Under Minnesota Statutes Sec. 518.1751, information provided to a Parenting Time Expeditor is confidential. That means the Parenting Time Expeditor can only contact third parties, including the children, with the written permission of both parties. Moreover, a Parenting Time Expeditor cannot testify in court unless specifically empowered by a court order to allow such testimony.

What is a Parenting Time Expeditor (PTE)
Parents who have difficulties with parenting time can use the services of a parenting time expeditor to assist them to look at the disputes and resolve them. The expeditor will make the decision if the parents are unable to reach an agreement. This process saves money and is less stressful on parents and children than a return to court. Prior to the use of expeditors, parents had to re-engage attorneys and return to court when unresolved parenting time disputes arose. Today, courts can appoint specialists to help parents resolve these disputes outside the courtroom.

Parenting Time Expeditors work with the parties to create solutions.
If the expeditor is unable to bring the parties to agreement on an issue, the expeditor is empowered by a court to make a decision in the matter. The expeditor can enforce, interpret, clarify and address circumstances not specifically addressed in an existing order. How the Parenting Time Expeditor’s role is defined may often be a product of the types of conflicts that the parents have historically encountered. If either party is dissatisfied with an expeditor’s decision, he or she can take the decision back to court.

Utilizing a Parenting Time Expeditor.
To engage a parenting time expeditor, parties must first obtain a court order appointing a particular individual as the expeditor. The court order will also apportion costs and set forth the scope of the expeditor’s engagement. The parenting time expeditor (PTE) first meets with both parties together for a two-hour session to gather information and learn about the particular needs of their family. After that meeting, when disputes arise, parties can contact the PTE via telephone or email. The PTE will communicate with both parties and attempt to seek agreement on the issue at hand. If the parties cannot agree, the PTE will issue a decision on the matter in writing to both parties.


 

Mediation

Mediation is a process in which an impartial third party (the mediator) assists people in conflict in finding a mutually acceptable solution to their dispute. Mediation is both voluntary and confidential.

WHO IS PRESENT AT MEDIATION?
Most commonly, the parties involved in the family law situation and the mediator will be the only ones present at the mediation. At times, it may be appropriate to include additional people in the mediation such as the parties’ attorneys, counselors or, in rare circumstances, the children.

WHAT HAPPENS IN MEDIATION?
The mediator will begin the mediation by explaining the mediation process and answering any questions. The mediator will then lead a structured conversation about the issues in the case, ensuring that each participant has the opportunity to speak and to listen in a safe environment. Mediators are impartial facilitators—they do not assign blame, judge who is right or wrong, or make decisions about what should happen. The mediator’s aim is to provide a collaborative environment in which parties can creatively address their needs and those of their family to arrive at solutions that are both “do-able” and “durable.” Separate sessions may be held if the mediator feels that they will be helpful to the process. The initial mediation session is typically scheduled for a two-hour block of time, and further sessions can be scheduled as needed. Any agreements reached by the parties will be incorporated into a Memorandum of Agreement drafted by the mediator. The Memorandum of Agreement can then be converted into an enforceable agreement by the parties or their attorney(s).

What Issues Can Be Handled In a Family Mediation?
Family mediation can address a number of family law issues including the following:

• Child custody (legal and physical)
• Parenting time (visitation)
• Child support
• Maintenance (alimony)
• Debt/asset division
• Pre- and post-nuptial agreements
• Moves out-of-state
• Transportation issues
• Communication issues
• Post-divorce issues
• Adoption
• School-related or discipline issues
• Grandparent/third-party custody

Why Choose Mediation?
· Mediation Allows the Parties to Control the Outcome
In mediation, the parties are in control. The parties make their own decisions about what is best. The solution is determined by people who will live with the consequences. The mediators do not impose their own views or solutions.

· Mediation is Voluntary
Participants mediate only if they choose to and have the option to stop at any time.

· Mediation is Confidential
Sessions are held in private and mediators will not disclose what is said in a mediation session, except under very rare circumstances. No records are kept of the discussion except the agreement that is reached by the participants.

· Mediation is Quick and Convenient
We can typically schedule mediations within one to two weeks of the initial inquiry at a time and place convenient to you.

· Mediation is Cost-Effective
The cost of mediation (which is generally the cost of the mediator) is typically far less than what you would pay if the matter went to court.

· Mediation is Non-Adversarial
In mediation, parties work together toward a solution that everyone can accept.

· Mediation is Respectful
Mediation fosters respect for differences in beliefs and backgrounds. Mediation helps people to preserve and maintain ongoing relationships.

· Mediation Works!
Even if you have already tried to resolve your dispute and have been unsuccessful, try mediation. It has helped many others in resolving seemingly intractable disputes.

Mediation offers peaceful, personal and private solutions that saves money, time and stress.
Mediation offers a quite different approach to resolving conflicts between the parties. A neutral third party-the mediator- assists the parties in sorting out their affairs and comes to a mutual agreement in a confidential private format. Mediation is a solid option even for those that are having trouble with communication. It is a cost-effective process and it avoids the legal war of going to court.

Mediation provides the parties with a method of MUTUALLY and EFFICIENTLY resolving issues in a private, safe and positive environment. With the help of a skilled mediator, the parties reach an agreement COOPERATIVELY rather than a competitive struggle. Unlike the adversarial process, neither party can win at the others expense.

Another role of the mediator is to pay attention to the power of balance between the parties and use specific techniques to address any imbalance that may exist.
Resolutions emerge from the mediation that are created and accepted by BOTH parties. The resolution will reflect each party's individual values and unique needs. Our experience has shown that settlements created with full participation of the parties, in face-to-face negotiations, are more likely to satisfy the needs of all parties and be honored in the future because they have crafted it themselves.

What Are The Benefits of Mediation?
• The parties control their own decisions
• Because the decisions are their own, the parties are far more likely to comply with their final agreements. Post-divorce conflict, with potential litigation and additional costs, is less likely to occur
• Mediation is faster than litigation
• Mediation is less expensive than litigation

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