News Item
Experts Offer Free Settlement Assistance in Hennepin County Family Court

Posted: Thursday, April 16, 2009

On Friday, April 17, more than 20 of the best family law lawyers in the state launched a new program to assist families who want to settle pending cases in the Family Court of the Fourth Judicial District, which encompasses Hennepin County.

The idea was generated by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers - Minnesota Chapter (AAML).  Membership in AAML is limited to the most experienced family law experts who must pass extensive testing to gain admission.  The lawyers have stepped forward to volunteer their services at no charge to the citizens or the Court.  Citizen participation also is voluntary.

The Moderated Settlement Conference Program will take place on April 17, 24 and May 8, 2009, at the Family Justice Center in Minneapolis.  The program is full to capacity with cases referred by the judges of the Family Court.

"The family law lawyers in this jurisdiction, and the AAML members in particular, continually assist our Court to innovate in ways that better serve families in transition," according to Tanja K. Manrique, presiding judge of the Family Court.  "The current economic downturn is straining many families, and nearly every category of new case filings increased during the first quarter of 2009.  This AAML program is an example of how the private and public sector can work together to help citizens get their lives back on track during this historically difficult economic time."

According to Martin Swaden, Esq., one of the AAML members who have led the effort to organize the Moderated Settlement Program, "The Minnesota chapter of the AAML believes it is important to assist with the increasing workload of the family court bench due to budget cutbacks and the economic downturn.  This offer of our time will help families resolve their cases as quickly as possible.  Our hope is that the offer of free services will enable families to quickly resolve their cases, which in turn will help the court to meet its deadlines for efficiently processing cases."

For more information about the program, contact AAML attorneys Martin Swaden at 952.832.5990 or Andrea Niemi at 612.333.2400, or Judge Manrique at 612.596.6986.

About the Fourth Judicial District

The State of Minnesota's Fourth Judicial District serves only Hennepin County and is the state's largest trial court with more than 750,000 cases received annually.  For more information, visit the website at