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Child Inclusive Mediation (CIM)
Social Early Neutral Evaluation (SENE)

Mediation is a confidential process in which parents work to reach agreements about custody, parenting time, and other parenting-related issues. The mediator is a neutral who helps facilitate the conversation between parents, but who does not have any decision-making authority. Mediation typically consists of a series of meetings, which may vary in length. Mediators are governed by Rule 114, and must complete 40-hours of approved training. Most mediators are on what is known as the “Rule 114 Roster” in counties in which they practice, and are required to participate in continuing education.

Jennifer Joseph completed her Rule 114 training in 2006.

She is on the rosters in all seven metro counties.


Child Inclusive Mediation (CIM)
Child Inclusive Mediation (CIM) is a targeted intervention designed to help parents better understand how their child or children are experiencing their parents’ separation or divorce, and to provide information to parents that may help them protect their child(ren)’s development from the effects of parental conflict. This is a form of mediation in which two professionals, a Child Consultant and a Mediator, work together with parents to help focus upon the child(ren)’s emotional and developmental needs as they address issues relating to the child(ren).

​Because it is a form of mediation, CIM is a confidential process. Participation is voluntary, and neither the Mediator nor the Child Consultant have decision-making authority. The process typically includes an orientation meeting with both parents and both professionals; individual meetings with the Child Consultant and each parent, individual meetings with the Child Consultant and the child(ren); consultation between the professionals, and a culminating Feedback Session with both parents and both professionals, to incorporate feedback about the children into child-focused solutions.

​This process is designed to help parents make more insightful choices and can be particularly helpful in cases which have complex family system dynamics. Child Inclusive Mediation often helps the child adjust to post separation arrangements. Jennifer Joseph performs the Mediator role and teams with a licensed Mental Health professional in the Child Consultant role. If you are interested in this process, please contact our office for a list of recommended Child Consultants.



Social Early Neutral Evaluation (SENE)
Early Neutral Evaluations are a relatively new innovation designed to help families resolve disputes about custody and parenting time quickly, and relatively early in the process, ideally before significant litigation occurs. This process started in Hennepin County, but is now available to parents in most counties throughout Minnesota.

​In an SENE, both parents (and their attorneys) meet with an experienced SENE team, which consists of one male and one female provider. Each parent has the opportunity to present the information they wish the SENE team to consider. The SENE team also has the opportunity to ask both parents additional questions. The SENE team then usually provides immediate feedback about the case, and provides recommendations for parents to consider. If appropriate, the SENE team may also facilitate a discussion about settlement options, and help the parents identify additional resources that may be helpful. In some cases, the SENE team may wish to gather additional information before providing recommendations. In that event, a second meeting may be scheduled, typically within 30 days.

​SENE is a confidential process, governed by Rule 114. As such, if parents reach a full or partial settlement in this process, that agreement is provided to the Court. If there is no agreement, however, the SENE team may only report that there is no agreement to the Court. In that case, the Court will consult with parents and their attorneys to decide on the next steps.

​Ms. Joseph is available to conduct SENEs throughout the 7-county metro area.


Parenting Plan Evaluation
Parenting Plan evaluations are performed by a neutral evaluator who has been appointed by the Court to conduct an independent investigation, and to make recommendations based on the “Best Interest Factors” set forth in Minn.Stat. 518.17. At a minimum, custody evaluations typically include:

● interviews with each parent

● home visits to observe the children and each parent together

● interviews of collateral references who have direct knowledge of the family’s situation (e.g., children’s teachers and school specialists, daycare providers, primary care providers, mental health providers who work with children and/or parents)

● interviews of personal references who have direct knowledge of the family’s situation (e.g. close friends or family members)

● review of relevant documents (e.g., family court file, school records, criminal history records)

In some cases, parents and/or children may be asked to complete additional evaluations or assessments.

Ms. Joseph’s evaluations occur in three phases: investigation and feedback, report writing, and testimony. Because of the amount of information that must be gathered and analyzed, Phase One of the evaluation typically takes 90-120 days. The cost for evaluations varies, depending on the complexity of the issues involved, and whether a report or testimony at trial or deposition is necessary. Ms. Joseph requires a conference call with attorneys for both clients to discuss the estimated cost of a particular case.



Parenting Consultant / Parenting Coordinator
As with the other roles, the Parenting Consultant is a neutral who helps parents resolve parenting related disputes. The scope of authority for the Parenting Consultant, however, is determined on a case by case basis, and is set forth in the Order Appointing Parenting Consultant. Like the PTE, a Parenting Consultant typically has the authority to enforce, interpret, and clarify Court Orders as they relate to parenting time, and to address circumstances not specifically addressed by an existing parenting time Order. However, the Parenting Consultant typically has additional authority to address broader issues which may not specifically relate to parenting time (e.g., monitoring a parent’s compliance with chemical dependency or mental health services; referring a parent or child for additional assessments or evaluations; making a decision about which school a child will attend if parents are unable to agree). The Parenting Consultant may also work with parents on improving communication and co-parenting skills.

​This process begins with the Parenting Consultant working with both parents to try to resolve the dispute by agreement. However, if parents are unable to agree, the Parenting Consultant also has the authority to make binding decisions about parenting issues. Both parents must agree to the appointment of a Parenting Consultant. This role is not governed by statute, but it is still considered a form of alternative dispute resolution under Rule 114.

​One important distinction is that Parenting Consulting/Coordination is not a confidential process, unlike mediation and PTE. Under certain circumstances, a Parenting Consultant may be required to provide information to the Court.



Parenting Coach
A Parenting Coach is a more flexible and informal process than those described above, and is not necessarily considered an Alternative Dispute Resolution process. Parenting Coaches typically help parents with specific issues, such as improving communication skills with the co-parent, improving parenting skills, or helping a parent work with other professionals. Coaches typically work with one parent, but in some cases it may be helpful for the coach to work with both parents. Coaches do not have the authority to make decisions. As a result, Coaches are most often used in conjunction with a Parenting Consultant or Parenting Time Expeditor. However, for lower-conflict families who only seek guidance or advice, a Coach may be an appropriate alternative to a Parenting Consultant or Parenting Time Expeditor.

Parenting Plan Evaluations
Parenting Consultant / Parenting Coordinator
Parenting Coach
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