Settle Out of Court

Going to court is not always the best way to solve a legal dispute because it can be costly, time-consuming and very stressful. Other ways to solve legal problems are called "alternative dispute resolution" (ADR). Common types of ADR include mediation, arbitration, and neutral evaluation.

Why settle out of court

  • An independent, neutral third person (a "neutral") listens to the facts from all sides and tries to focus on the core issues.
  • A settlement can often be reached more quickly than in a court process.
  • Parties can save money by trying to settle their issues rather than going to court, which may involve attorneys fees and other costs.
  • Parties are often more satisfied with the outcome, especially if the dispute involves family members.
  • A law or court order might require the parties to use ADR.
  • NOTE: If you feel threatened by or unsafe with the other party, you may want to get legal advice or help from an advocate before using ADR.
Alternative Dispute Resolution ("ADR") processes are alternative methods of helping 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.

The use of ADR early in a case can result in the more efficient, cost-effective resolution of disputes with greater satisfaction to the parties. A great majority of the civil cases, including marital dissolutions (divorces), filed in Minnesota state courts are settled by using ADR.
Learn more on the ADR Help Topic

Early Case Management

Early Case Management (ECM) is a five-prong model used in family court that requires intensive judicial involvement very early in the case to tailor a case management plan and, in many cases, facilitate an expedited settlement.

Early Neutral Evaluation

Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE) is a voluntary, confidential, high quality, affordable, prompt, evaluative alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process focused on generating durable settlements. In social ENE (SENE), custody and parenting time issues are addressed. In financial ENE (FENE), financial and marital estate issues are addressed.

Learn more about the Minnesota ECM/ENE Statewide Initiative, as well as resources for ENE programs and evaluators

You can find service providers by getting referrals from community agencies, friends, employers, religious advisers, and other people you trust. The resources listed below may be one option for you.