General Questions About Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
General Questions about Rule 114 ADR Roster Qualification
General Questions about Continuing Education (CE) for Qualified Neutrals
General Questions About Complaints
The ADR Ethics Board
General Questions about Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
What is ADR?
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) processes are alternative methods to help people resolve legal problems before going to court. ADR involves an independent third person, called a "neutral" who tries to help resolve or narrow the areas of conflict. A great majority of the civil cases, including marital dissolutions (divorces), filed in Minnesota State courts are settled by using ADR. The parties must consider whether to use ADR to help resolve the dispute.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of using ADR?
Some of the advantages to using ADR to resolve your dispute include:
Some of the disadvantages to using ADR to resolve your dispute include:
- ADR can be speedier. A dispute often can be resolved in a matter of months, event weeks, through ADR; whereas , a lawsuit can take years.
- ADR is often less expensive.
- ADR allows more control of the outcome for the to a dispute.
- The process is confidential and private.
- ADR fosters cooperation between parties by allowing the parties to work together to resolve the dispute. This can produce more lasting agreements.
- ADR is often less stressful than going to trial.
- ADR may not be suitable for every dispute.
- If the process is binding, the parties normally give up more court protections, including a decision by a judge or jury, and appellate review.
- ADR may not be effective if it takes place before the parties have sufficient information to resolve the dispute.
- The Neutral may charge a fee for services. If the dispute is not resolved through an ADR process, the parties may then face the usual costs of going to court.
- Parties should be mindful to not let a Statute of Limitation (sets the maximum time after an event during which legal proceedings may begin) run while a dispute is in an ADR process.
What is a Neutral?
A "Neutral" is an individual or organization who provides an ADR service. Neutrals who are on the State Court Administrator's Rule 114 Neutral Roster are "Qualified Neutrals" and have attended training certified by the State Court Administrator’s office. Neutrals are mostly licensed professionals with a wide variety of backgrounds, such as attorneys, social workers, psychologists and other mental health professionals, along with other non-licensed subject matter experts. Neutrals will not represent you or provide legal advice, nor offer therapy when acting as a Neutral.
How Do I Find a Qualified Neutral?
To find a Qualified Neutral, search the Rule 114 Roster of Qualified Neutrals. You may search the roster by choosing family or civil. You may filter your search by experience, ADR process, and by county. Once you have a list, you may contact any of the providers to find out about fees and experience.
When choosing a Neutral for your ADR process, you should review the Neutral's professional background and style of practice. Credentials that are often important in choosing a Neutral include the following:
- Professional background (law, accounting, counseling, etc.);
- Training in the ADR process for which you need assistance;
- Experience in conducting ADR processes; and
- Knowledge in the area of the dispute (e.g., custody issues, real estate, employment).
What is the fee for a Neutral and who pays the fee?
Parties are responsible for paying the Neutral for their services. Typically, fees are based on an hourly rate established by the neutral. ADR services provided by some organizations have established a sliding fee scale based on the parties’ incomes. It is assumed that the parties will split the cost of the ADR process equally, unless they agree otherwise. Parties should be sure to discuss fees and payments prior to entering into an ADR agreement.
What are the most common types of ADR used in Minnesota?
The most common forms of ADR are mediation (facilitative process), arbitration (adjudicative process) and case evaluation (evaluative process). There are also other types of ADR besides those listed above that are used in Minnesota (see below descriptions of ADR processes).
The following is a list of descriptions of the different types of ADR processes used in Minnesota state courts:
- Arbitration. A process in which a Neutral (arbitrator) or panel renders a decision (award) after reviewing the evidence and hearing arguments by each party or attorneys. The award may be binding or nonbinding, pursuant to the agreement of the parties.
- Binding Arbitration is when the arbitrator’s decision (award) is final and there will not be an appeal of that decision.
- Non-Binding Arbitration is when a party may file a request for an appeal of the arbitrator’s decision (award) within a certain amount of time.
- Consensual Special Magistrate. A process in which a Neutral decides issues after the parties have presented their evidence and arguments in the same manner as a civil lawsuit is presented to a judge. This process is binding and parties have the right of appeal.
- Summary Jury Trial. A process in which a Neutral presides over the parties’ short presentation of their evidence and arguments to a jury. The jury issues a verdict which may be binding or non-binding, according to the agreement of the parties.
- Early Neutral Evaluation. (ENE). A process in which one or more Neutrals (evaluators) with experience in the subject matter of the dispute reviews information from the parties or their attorneys after the case is filed but before discovery (the formal process of gathering information relevant to the pending litigation, which may include written interrogatories, document production and depositions) is conducted. The Neutral(s) may give an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of a claim, case, or defense; an opinion of settlement value; and, an opinion as to how the parties should expect the court to rule on the case or issue(s) presented. The parties negotiate after hearing the Neutrals’ evaluation. The Neutral(s) may help narrow the dispute and suggest guidelines for managing discovery.
ENE may be used in civil and family law cases. In family law cases, there are two types of ENE processes:
- Financial Early Neutral Evaluation (FENE) involves financial issues such as child support.
- Social Early Neutral Evaluation (SENE) involves custody and parenting time issues and is generally conducted by a team of two Neutrals unless agreed otherwise by the parties.
To learn more about family early case management and early neutral evaluation, please visit the ENE page on this website by following the link below.
Early Case Management/Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE)
- Non-Binding Advisory Opinion. A process in which the parties and their counsel present their positions before one or more Neutral(s). The Neutral(s) then issue(s) a non-binding advisory opinion regarding liability, damages, or both.
- Neutral Fact-Finding. A process in which a Neutral investigates and analyzes a factual dispute and issues findings that are non-binding unless the parties agree to be bound by them.
- Moderated Settlement Conference (MSC). A process in which an experienced Neutral offers evaluative impressions to parties to assist in the settlement process in the later stages of family court matters.
- Mediation. A process in which a Neutral (mediator) facilitates communication and negotiation to promote voluntary decision making by the parties to the dispute. A mediator may not impose his or her own judgment on the issues. The parties decide upon how the dispute should be resolved.
Information about ADR in the Minnesota State Court System (PDF)
What does confidentiality in ADR mean?
- Mini-Trial. A process in which each party and their attorney, if any, present their positions before a selected representative for each party (i.e., the president of a company), before a Neutral third party, or both, to develop a basis for settlement negotiations. A Neutral may issue an advisory opinion regarding the merits of the case. The advisory opinion is not binding unless the parties agree that it is binding and enter into a written settlement agreement.
- Mediation-Arbitration. (Med-Arb). A process in which a Neutral first mediates the parties’ dispute and then, in the event of an impasse, serves as arbitrator of the dispute. The decision may be binding or non-binding, pursuant to the agreement of the parties.
- Arbitration-Mediation (Arb-Med). A process in which the Neutral first serves as an arbitrator of the parties’ dispute. Prior to issuing the decision, the Neutral will mediate. In the event of an impasse, the Neutral discloses the decision which may be binding or non-binding, pursuant to the agreements of the parties.
- Parenting Time Expediting (PTE). A process in which a Neutral is appointed by the court pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 518.1751. The Parenting Time Expeditor (PTE) is limited to addressing the following:
- Parenting time disputes not addressed in court orders;
- Interpreting court orders; and
- Determining if violations of court orders occurred.
- This process is a hybrid of mediation/arbitration and begins with Neutral facilitation (mediation) of parenting time disputes. If parties are unable to agree, the PTE will make a decision (arbitration), which is binding unless modified or vacated by the court.
- Parenting Consulting (PC). A process in which the Neutral (PC) incorporates Neutral facilitation (mediation), coaching, and decision making. Terms of the process are defined by the agreement of the parties and incorporated into a court order.
- Other. Parties may by agreement create an ADR process. They shall explain their process in the civil cover sheet that is filed with the court.
Confidentiality is the bedrock principle of most ADR processes. Rule 114.08(a) of the Minnesota General Rules of Practice provides that:
Without the consent of all parties and an order of the court, or except as provided in Rule 114.09(e)(4), no evidence that there has been an ADR proceeding or any fact concerning the proceeding may be admitted in a trial de novo or in any subsequent proceeding involving any of the issues or parties to the proceeding.
What can the Neutral report back to the court?
During the ADR process, as provided in the Minnesota Rule of Practice, Rule 114.10(c), Neutrals can only report the following to the Court:
- Failure of a party to comply with a court order to attend the process;
- Any requests by the parties for additional time;
- With written consent of the parties, any procedural action by the court to facilitate the process;
- Neutral’s assessment that the case is inappropriate for that particular ADR process.
Following the ADR process, as provided in the Minnesota General Rules of Practice, Rule 114.10(d), Neutrals can only report the following:
What is the effect of an agreement reached in an ADR process?
- Lack of agreement without additional comments or recommendations;
- If agreement is reached, requirement that its terms be reported to court should be consistent with the jurisdiction’s policies governing settlements; and
- With written consent of parties, Neutral may report any pending motions or outstanding legal issues, discovery process, or any other action by any other party, which if resolved or completed, would facilitate the possibility of a settlement.
If agreement is reached, it should be put in writing and the terms should be communicated to the court if the parties agree. Any agreement reached in mediation is enforceable as a contract and may be entered by the court as an order dismissing the case, if consistent with law and public policy.
General Questions about Rule 114 ADR Roster Qualification
How does a person become a Qualified Neutral in Minnesota?
In order to become a Qualified Neutral you must take an ADR course certified through State Court Administration. The course must meet the requirements enumerated in Rule 114.13. You must complete an Individual Application (individual applications can be found under the tab Applications
on this page) after you have completed the required coursework to become a Qualified Neutral to be listed on the Rule 114 Neutral Roster. The application fee is $70.00.
A person takes the required training to be on any Rule 114 list, but chooses not to be listed on the roster. Can they say that they are "Qualified to be a Minnesota Rule 114 Neutral" or that they are a "Minnesota Rule 114 Qualified Neutral?"
A Neutral must be currently active on the MN State Court Administrator's Qualified Neutral roster to say that they are a "Qualified Neutral under Rule 114 of the Minnesota General Rules of Practice." See Rule 114 Code of Ethics, Rule VI Advertising and Solicitation.
Where can I find the required training to be included on the Rule 114 roster?
A list of frequent sponsors of certified ADR training can be found under the tab Course Petitions
. You can contact any one of the sponsors to ask about upcoming certified trainings in your area. To verify if a course has been reviewed and certified by the State Court Administrator's office, contact the ADR Program via the contact form under the tab Contact Us
How do I add an additional roster to the one(s) I am already on if I complete a certified training and/or fulfill the experience requirements for another roster?
You can add an additional roster by submitting another Individual Application form and completing the sections pertaining to the roster(s) you are applying for. The $70 administrative fee is required for each form submitted.
How can I submit a waiver request pursuant to Rule 114.14 of the Minnesota General Rules of Practice of the training requirement under Rule 114.13?
The ADR Ethics Board may waive or partially waive training based on an applicant’s background and experience. Waivers may be granted only when, with the discretion of the Board, the waiver will not undermine the high standard of competence and ethical responsibility required of Qualified Rule 114 Neutrals.
An applicant for qualification who was certified, licensed or qualified as a mediator in another state or country and who desires to have all or part of the training requirements waived on the basis of previous training and experience, or an applicant who believes that they have sufficient training and experience, may request such a waiver by submitting the following:
- A completed and signed Individual Application without payment.
- A cover letter demonstrating equivalent number of hours of training as required to be qualified under Rule 114.13; and
- Evidence of relevant expereience in the processes you are requesting to waived onto.
Upon approval, you will be asked to submit the $70 application fee. Waiver requests submitted without evidence of relevant training and experience will be denied.
I took a certified ADR training five (5) years ago in Minnesota, do I need to retake the training in order to be placed on the roster?
No, under current rule there are no time limitations from when you take a certified training to when you may apply to be placed on the roster.
What are the requirements to stay on the roster?
Qualified Neutrals must submit a $50.00 renewal fee and affidavit annually. In addition, Qualified Neutrals providing facilitative or hybrid services must complete 18 hours of ADR related continuing education within a three-year reporting period. Qualified Neutrals providing exclusively adjudicative or evaluative services must complete nine hours of ADR related continuing education within a three-year reporting period. Qualified Neutrals providing services on both the facilitative/hybrid and evaluative and/or adjudicative panels need only complete 18 total hours of CE every three years.
State Court Administration will email the Annual Renewal Invoice and Affidavit and an ADR Continuing Education Report Form approximately 90 days prior to the due date. If you need to obtain another copy of these documents, please send an e-mail via the contact form under the tab Contact Us
General Questions about Continuing Education (CE) for Qualified Neutrals
Where can I find ADR related continuing education courses?
ADR related continuing education (CE) can be found throughout the state. The ADR Program maintains a document that lists frequent sponsors of ADR programming. You may reach out to any of the sponsors on the list to find out about available courses.
ADR Course Provider List (PDF)
The judicial branch is not endorsing or recommending these providers due to their inclusion on this list.
Can CEs be attended on-demand? If so, how many credits can be attended on-demand?
Yes, there is no limit to the amount of CEs you can attend on-demand.
Can I report the same course I took to be placed on a roster for CE credit?
Only if you are already on the roster and you attended the certified course to be added to an additional roster, or if you are already on the roster and you attended the course to refresh your skills. All CEs must be attended during the Neutral’s reporting period. Reporting periods begin on the day that your initial application is processed.
Can pro bono mediations or ride-alongs be used towards CE?
No, only courses that meet the guidelines published on this site can be used towards CE.
My interest is in mediating business disputes. Do business law CLEs count toward the 18 hours or do I have to keep taking the same basic ADR classes over and over again every cycle?
According to the guidelines for CE that are published on this site, you may attend a course as long as it is materially related to the subject matter of the Neutral’s ADR practice. If you are listed on the family mediation roster, then courses on business law will not be applicable towards ADR CE. However, a course about how to resolve conflicts involving families would be applicable.
Is there a way to report my courses online immediately after I attend them, similar to how lawyers report CLEs, or do I have to keep track and report them at the end of my reporting cycle?
No, you must maintain a list of the CEs you attend during your reporting period. A form will be emailed to you at least 90 days prior to the end of your reporting period on which you may report your courses.
Where can I obtain a copy of my continuing education report?
If you need another copy of your CE report, please submit a request via the contact form under the Contact Us
tab on this page. CE report forms are not posted online since they are specific to each Neutral.
Are there any published guidelines for what qualifies as Continuing Education (CE) for ADR?
Continuing Education (CE) Guidelines for Qualified Neutrals
How can I find out if a complaint has been filed against a Neutral?
General Questions About Complaints
All information related to complaints filed against a Neutral is confidential. If a Neutral has been publically sanctioned by the ADR Ethics Board, information about that can be found on the Complaint Process
section of this webpage. There have been no public sanctions leveled against a Neutral since 2016.
How do I file a complaint against a Neutral? What is the process for reviewing and handling a complaint?
The complaint process is summarized on the Complaint Process
tab on this webpage.
ADR Ethics Board Complaint Process Flowchart
At what point is the Neutral notified that a complaint has been received? If a complaint is unfounded, is the Neutral still notified?
The ADR Ethics Board determines whether, the allegation(s) of a complaint, if true, constitute a violation of the Rule 114 Code of Ethics. If the allegations, if true, constitute a violation, the Neutral is notified that there will be an investigation and has twenty-eight (28) days to respond. If the allegations do not constitute a violation, the Neutral is notified of the complaint and its dismissal.
Can a complaint be submitted about someone practicing ADR, but not on the list of Qualified Neutrals?
The ADR Ethics Board only considers complaints against any individual or organization (neutral) placed on the roster of Qualified Neutrals pursuant to Rule 114.12 or serving as a court appointed Neutral pursuant to 114.05(b) of the Minnesota General Rules of Practice.
What are the most common complaints received by the Board regarding ADR Neutrals? Of those filed, how many are dismissed as unfounded?
Between 2013 and 2018:
- 3 complaints filed against Neutrals on the civil facilitative (mediation) roster.
- 6 complaints filed against Neutrals on the civil adjudicative/evaluative (arbitration and evaluation) roster.
- 3 complaints filed against Neutrals on the family arbitration roster.
- 2 complaints filed against Neutrals on the family evaluative (SENE, FENE, MSC) roster.
- 86 complaints against Neutrals on the family facilitative (mediation) roster. Of those 80, 47 were complaints against parenting consultants (PCs) and 32 were complaints against parenting time expeditors (PTEs).
Between 2013 and 2018:
- Of the 111 complaints received, 43 were dismissed without investigation, 57 were investigated, and 11 were dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
- Of the 57 complaints that were investigated, 26 were determined to be ethical violations and 31 were dismissed.
What is the breakdown of the number of ethics complaints by each Rule 114 Code of Ethics rule number?
Total complaints of alleged ethical rule violation by rule (2013 - 2018):
Is the ADR Ethics Board able to get my money back from a Neutral or change a decision made by a Neutral?
- Rule I. Impartiality 83
- Rule II. Conflicts of Interest 33
- Rule III. Competence 42
- Rule IV. Confidentiality 24
- Rule V. Quality of Process 89
- Rule VI. Advertising and Solicitation 7
- Rule VII. Fees 47
- Mediation Rule I. Self-Determination 11
No, the ADR Ethics Board is not able to get the money back that you paid to the Neutral nor change a decision made by a Neutral.
Of the complaints that have merit, what is a "typical" resolution?
The Board may impose sanctions if doing so is supported by clear and convincing evidence. (Code of Ethics Enforcement Procedure Rule III, Sanctions, Part B.) The Code of Ethics Enforcement Procedure Rule III, Sanctions, Part A includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Issue a private reprimand.
- Designate the corrective action necessary for the Neutral to remain on the roster.
- Notify the appointing court and any professional licensing authority with which the Neutral is affiliated of the complaint and its disposition.
- Publish the Neutral's name, a summary of the violation, and any sanctions imposed.
- Remove the Neutral from the roster of Qualified Neutrals, and set conditions for reinstatement if appropriate.
ADR Ethics Board
Who serves on the ADR Ethics Board?
The thirteen-member board includes representatives of:
- Judiciary (6)
- Non-Judiciary (7)
Current board members are listed on the ADR Ethics Board Members
What are the criteria for selection/appointment?
Individuals serving on the ADR Ethics Board who provide Neutral services must be Qualified Neutrals under Rule 114, and be on the Rule 114 Roster of Neutrals maintained by the State Court Administrator.
How are Board members selected/appointed?
The State Court Administrator solicits applications for Board members. The Minnesota Supreme Court appoints members to the ADR Ethics Board.
The ADR Ethics Board makes recommendations to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which appoints members. The Ethics Board considers applicants' professional experiences and commitment to the importance of ADR in the MN court system. It also seeks to represent broad ADR backgrounds in its membership, and gender, racial, ethnic and geographic diversity, with members from throughout Minnesota. The Board also recommends applicants who contribute special expertise or knowledge on some aspect of policy that the Board expects to face in the near future.
What other responsibilities does the ADR Ethics Board have beyond monitoring ADR practice and practitioners?
The Minnesota Supreme Court adopted the current ADR Ethics Board priorities in an Order dated November 8, 2007.
2007 ADR Ethics Board Order