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Out of court settlements are vastly preferable to a judge making decisions about children’s residential schedules; dividing holiday and vacation time; child support; valuation and division of assets and allocation of debt. If a divorce, legal separation or parental rights and responsibilities court case is filed, the parties are generally referred to mediation at some point in the legal process.

Mediation is available through the court system for a fee and is conducted at the courthouse. Conference space is often limited and depending on the day, there may be many people at the courthouse for a variety of unrelated cases.

Kristin A. Gustafson is available to act as a private mediator to assist couples who are able to cooperate and want to work together to reach agreements before or during a separation or divorce. Parties who are represented by an attorney usually attend mediation with their lawyers, unless the lawyers and the clients agree the parties should go to mediation without them. In all cases, each party should have a lawyer review any mediated agreements before submitting an agreement to the court.