Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process that allows parents the opportunity to work toward resolution of custody, parenting time, or other parenting related disputes outside of court. The mediator is a neutral whose role is to facilitate discussion between parents. The mediator does not have any decision-making authority, which allows parents to remain in control of the outcome. The benefit of the mediation process is that it creates an opportunity for parents to minimize the financial and emotional stress of the court process.

Kristin Woulfe is an experienced mediator and over the past 13 years has successfully mediated the resolution of a wide range of disputed issues, including but not limited to clarifying and/or defining parenting time schedules, defining holiday and vacation schedules, school attendance, extra-curricular activities, step-parent issues, and establishing/improving parental communication. Kristin is on the Alternative Dispute Resolution(ADR) Rule 114 Neutrals Roster.
Child Inclusive Mediation (CIM) was developed by Jennifer McIntosh, PhD, in an effort to reduce the impact of post-divorce conflict on children. The goal of this process is to assist parents in understanding how their children are experiencing the separation/divorce and refocus the agenda of the mediation on the children’s needs.

CIM is a voluntary and confidential process. The process involves two professionals – a mediator and a child consultant. The child consultant interviews the children individually to elicit their thoughts and feelings regarding their parents’ separation/conflict and to gain an understanding of the children’s needs within the context of their family relationships and experiences. The child consultant then provides the parents with feedback regarding the children’s perspective during the mediation session. The mediator and parents use this information to work toward a resolution that supports the children’s adjustment and enhances family relationships. This process should only be used in situations where both parents are willing and able to accept feedback that may be inconsistent with their point of view. More detailed information regarding this process can be found at the Mediation Center’s website.

Kristin is trained in the CIM process, having participated in the Jennifer McIntosh CIM skills and advanced CIM skills training. Kristin was a member of the committee that established the Minnesota Best Practices Standards for the use of this process. Kristin’s unique skill set make her a well-qualified child consultant or mediator for this process.

The Social Early Neutral Evaluation (SENE) process was originally developed in Hennepin County, MN and due to its highly successful outcomes has since been implemented throughout Minnesota. The effectiveness of this structured process stems from the combination of evaluative feedback and meditative components.

The SENE is a voluntary and confidential process. It is utilized early in the litigation process and is designed to assist parents in resolving their custody and parenting time disputes in a short amount of time. A male and female evaluator team meets with the parents and their attorneys for a three to four-hour session. During that meeting parents share information about their custody and parenting time disputes a long with how they would like to see those resolved. The evaluators then offer evaluative feedback and recommendations on how the parents might resolve their disputes. Parents are given an opportunity to discuss resolution options with the assistance of their attorneys and the team.  In some cases, the evaluators may wish to collect additional information prior to offering feedback. In those cases, a second meeting would be scheduled.

As this is a confidential process, information shared during the meeting cannot be used in future court proceedings. If no agreement is reached, the parents and/or attorneys work with the court to decide the next step toward resolution.

Kristin worked for Hennepin County Family Court Services during the initial stages of development of this process. She received advanced training, specifically focused on SENE, and performed hundreds of SENE’S while at Hennepin County Family Court Services.

Custody and parenting time evaluations are court ordered processes used when parents cannot agree regarding custody of and/or parenting time with their children. The court appoints a neutral evaluator whose role it is to conduct an investigation and make recommendations based on the “Best Interest Factors” as defined by Minn. Statute §518.17.

Custody and parenting time evaluations involve the collection of information through a variety of sources including; interviews with parents, interviews with children, parent child observations, collection of collateral information (e.g., medical records, chemical health records, mental health records, school/daycare records, criminal records, etc.), and may also include referrals for additional assessments or evaluations (e.g., mental health, chemical health, etc.).

Typically, a feedback session occurs with attorneys and/or parents at the end of the evaluation process. The evaluator provides a verbal summary of the information gathered and offers recommendations regarding custody and parenting issues. A written report may be generated at either parents request if a settlement is not reached. The written report is distributed to the attorneys and/or parents upon completion. The evaluator may also be subpoenaed to testify if a trial occurs.

Kristin’s time at Hennepin County Family Court Services provided her with extensive experience in conducting thorough and credible evaluations. Kristin has skillfully addressed a wide range of complex and difficult issues, including but not limited to chemical health issues, mental health issues, third party custody, parental alienation, sexual abuse allegations and domestic violence.

A Brief Focused Assessment (BFA) is used for families with specific, narrowly defined issues that do not require a comprehensive court ordered evaluation. A court order defines the issues to be addressed and appoints a neutral evaluator whose role is to provide the court with information regarding the identified issues. The reporting of information collected is often more descriptive than analytic and any recommendations offered are limited by the referral question.

Kristin’s experience both as a custody evaluator and Guardian Ad Litem gives her the level of expertise needed to perform high quality BFA’s. Kristin has a breadth of knowledge regarding issues such as parenting time schedules, mental health issues, chemical health issues, and parent child relationships, as well as the skill set needed to address the types of questions identified in a BFA.

When parents have ongoing disputes regarding the parenting time schedule and access issues a Parenting Time Expediter (PTE) can be appointed. The PTE role is defined by Minn. Statute §518.1751 and is a confidential process. The PTE is appointed by court order, either by agreement of the parents’ or at the court’s discretion. The PTE has the authority to enforce, interpret, and clarify existing court orders related to parenting time, address parenting time issues not specifically addressed in the court order and determine if the existing order has been violated. The PTE works with the parents to try and resolve disputes by agreement, but has the authority to make binding decisions when agreements are not reached. The PTE may not make changes to or decisions inconsistent with existing court orders.

Kristin requests that parents use the “Model PTE Order” template and modify it to meet the specific needs of their case. The “PTE Model Court Order” can be found at the Mediation Center’s website.

The combination of skills Kristin has developed from her roles as a mediator, custody evaluator, and Guardian AdLitem make her as well-qualified PTE. Kristin strives to help parents define consistent and predictable parenting time schedules and understands the importance of timely dispute resolution.

Note: The roles of a Parenting Time Expeditor and a Parenting Consultant appear similar. However, the role of a Parenting Time Expeditor is limited to parenting time schedule and access issues, while the role of the Parenting Consultant is broader, addressing parenting time issues as well as any additional issues defined in the appointing court order.

When parents have high conflict or have demonstrated an inability to make joint decisions regarding their children, a Parenting Consultant (PC) may be appointed by the court. A PC can only be appointed by the court upon agreement of the parents. As the PC role is not regulated by Minnesota statue, the scope of the PC’s authority is defined by the appointing court order, the PC has the authority to assist the parents in resolving child related disputes, to address parenting issues, to address parenting time disputes and any additional issues specified in the appointing court order. The PC may also assist parents with improving their communication and cooperation skills. The PC works with parents to resolve disputes by agreements, but has the authority to make binding decisions. Unlike the PTE process, the PC process is not confidential and the PC may be called to testify if subpoenaed.

Kristin requests that parents use the “Perfect PC Order” template and modify it to meet the specific needs of their case.  The “Perfect PC Order” order can be found at the Mediation Center’s website.

The combination of skills Kristin developed as a mediator, custody evaluator and Guardian AdLitem make her a well-qualified PC. In addition, she participated in PC training through the Hamline University Mediation Center. Kristin has extensive working with high conflict families and understands the importance of assisting parents in resolving disputes in a timely manner.

Note: The roles of a Parenting Time Expeditor and a Parenting Consultant appear similar. However, the role of a Parenting Time Expeditor is limited to parenting time schedule and access issues, while the role of the Parenting Consultant is broader, addressing parenting time issues as well as any additional issues defined in the appointing court order.

A coach may assist parents in understanding and navigating the stresses of the court process. A coach may also assist parents in developing more effective strategies for navigating parenting and co-parenting relationships. The role of the coach is advisory and educational in nature. The coach may work with parents to educate them on issues such as, co-parenting strategies, child management skills, and communication. A coach may work with a parent individually or both parents. The goal of this process is to facilitate greater understanding and successful long term relationships.

Kristin combines her knowledge of the family court system and experience working with families to assist parents in successfully reducing their stress related to the court process and improve their co-parenting relationships.