Alternative Dispute Resolution

What is ADR?

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) encompasses a variety of methods that are used to resolve disputes between parties without going to court. These methods involve the use of a qualified independent neutral and typically result in more efficient and cost-effective settlements. CC&S has several attorneys who are Qualified Rule 114 Neutrals with experience providing forms of ADS such as mediation, parenting consultant, arbitration, evaluative and hybrid processes.


During the mediation process, a Neutral Mediator meets with all parties to identify the issues involved in the dispute and discuss potential solutions. The mediator then facilitates communication between the parties. The parties may choose to have their attorneys participate in the mediation. In some cases, mediation is evaluative and the Neutral Mediator provides a non-binding assessment regarding each parties’ position and a recommended course of action. In other cases, the mediation is strictly facilitative. 

Early Neutral Evaluation

Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE) is a process in which attorneys present the main points of the dispute to a neutral evaluator with the parties present. This occurs after the case is filed but before discovery is conducted. The neutral then provides an unbiased evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of each side. If a settlement is unable to be reached, the neutral evaluator helps narrow down the dispute and provides recommendations for handling Discovery. There are two different Early Neutral Evaluation processes in Minnesota: Social Early Neutral Evaluation (SENE), and Financial Early Neutral Evaluation (FENE).

Parenting Consultant

A Parenting Consultant is a trained neutral who can assist with a variety of parenting disputes related to child custody, visitation schedules and parenting time. Parenting Consultants often work with families on an ongoing basis to resolve conflicts that arise after a divorce. This process is voluntary and both parents must agree to it. One of the most significant benefits to using a Parenting Consultant is that decisions can be reached much quicker than filing motions and arguing them in court. This can be particularly important for time-sensitive issues such as school enrollment.

Parenting Time Expediator

Similar to a Parenting Consultant, a Parenting Time Expeditor can resolve parenting time disputes quickly between two parents. These are trained neutrals appointed by the court to resolve a single issue, or to work with you on an ongoing basis. The neutral makes decisions based on an existing Parenting Order. While the decisions of the Parenting Time Expeditor become part of the court record, all discussions and analysis are kept confidential.

Consensual Special Magistrate

A Consensual Special Magistrate (CSM) is a qualified neutral third party who acts as a judge. Each party presents their case to the CSM in the same way they would in court, and the CSM then makes a binding decision. If you disagree with the decision, you have the right to appeal to the Minnesota Court of Appeals. A CSM is typically an attorney with extensive litigation experience in complex cases. They can conduct hearings and trials, receive evidence, and prepare a detailed written decision.


Arbitration is a method of dispute resolution where each party and their lawyer present their case to a qualified neutral, who then provides a decision on the outcome. If both parties agree ahead of time, the result is binding. If both parties do not agree that the award is binding, then the award is non-binding and advisory in nature. The role of an arbitrator is similar to that of a judge, however, the benefits of arbitration are that it is usually quicker and less expensive than going to court. Arbitration can be used in many different types of cases from divorce to Real Estate and Land Use disputes.

Contact Us to Learn More

Find out how CC&S has helped others like you resolve legal issues without going to court. Our knowledgable staff is available to answer questions about the process of ADR and help you find your most efficient path to settlement. Call our office at 763-561-2800 or contact us online.

Alternative Dispute Resolution Attorneys

Ellen Schreder

Ellen M. Schreder

Managing Partner

Ellen began her career by representing our firm’s municipal clients, and has since built the firm’s family law practice. She now spends approximately one-half of her time serving as a neutral in all types of family law matters, as a mediator, early neutral evaluator, parenting consultant and parenting time expediter.

Dawn Speltz

Dawn E. Speltz


Dawn works in all areas of family law, including divorce, child custody, paternity, asset division, child support and domestic abuse. She is also a qualified rule 114 neutral, providing a variety of ADR services including early neutral evaluation as well as parenting consultant services.

Jeffrey Carson

Jeffrey A. Carson

Of Counsel

Jeff has worked extensively in the fields of eminent domain and special assessments, and has also served as a Commissioner in condemnation matters in the metropolitan area. He is a Qualified Rule 114 Neutral and serves as a mediator in the municipal field.