>>> telephone:   952.876.4001
>>> email:   steve@stevenbschmidtmediation.com
>>> address:   IDS Center
80 South 8th St., Suite 900
Minneapolis, MN 55402

IV. Why should we choose to use Steven Schmidt as our mediator?

Many lawyers, therapists and retired judges serve as mediators in family law cases. Selecting a mediator that has both the experience and temperament to work with individuals going through what is often a very emotionally traumatic and financially challenging time of their lives is a very important decision for both parties going through this experience. The proven ability of the person to resolve cases is probably the most important criteria for the selection process, given the emotional and financial costs that can be saved if the mediator is able to be successful in resolving those disputes. While it is always important for mediators to know that not every case can be settled in mediation, it is important for a mediator to at least believe and to make every effort in trying to settle every case. Steve is dedicated to making every effort to settle each case he mediates and has a reputation for being highly successful in settling cases. This accounts for so many referrals to him from so many judges and attorneys throughout the state of Minnesota. His personal experience and professional experience are what make him successful.


  • In my office I have two paintings created by my oldest daughter, a graduate from the prestigious Art Institute School of Chicago. One of them depicts a father with strong hands holding gracefully the foot of an infant daughter. My daughter presented these to me as a way of symbolizing my strength and my nurturing of her when she was an infant, growing up and dependant upon me. She is now a very strong woman and teaching in the world of art. I have this painting in my office to remind me that each mediation case is dependent upon the mediator’s strength to manage the conflict in a case and to be sensitive to the needs and vulnerabilities of each party in a mediation to have any chance of successfully resolving the parties’ issues.
  • My youngest daughter is currently in medical school with her plan to become a psychiatrist to provide mental health services to children and parents who have experienced mental health issues, including divorce and chemical dependency.
  • Before they entered elementary school, I became a single parent not by my choice. Together my daughters and I experienced the joys and challenges of sharing joint legal and joint physical custody. I was a full time parent every other week but also found the energy, determination and nurturing to fulfill my parenting responsibilities and my professional responsibilities. Please understand, it was not easy and it was not perfect.
  • Due to the mental health challenges experienced by their mother, my daughters and I experienced the further joys and challenges of my being a full-time parent every week and weekend while my daughters were going through all of the teenage years, then graduating from high school and leaving the nest and also dear dad behind as they headed off to fulfill their professional career dreams.
  • My point is that personal experience of having “walked in the shoes” of the clients coming in to mediation certainly provides an insight into the realities of the client’s anxieties or fears related to sharing parenting time/parenting decisions and the financial conflicts related to the division of property, his and her premarital and inherited property, child support, spousal maintenance and how to pay the mediator, the parenting experts, the financial experts and the attorneys.
  • A mediator needs to be able to balance the conflict between the parties who may have had a shared journey through life, sometimes in shorter marriages than others, but now face separation/divorce with competing self interest or personal needs. Neither party is necessarily objective because their vision is clouded by the emotional judgments they individually make as to why the marriage relationship no longer works for one or both parties. Unfortunately, in many cases this leads to the parties engaging in negative criticism, blaming and attacking one another and often insisting that their attorneys act as the champions of this personal battle. The mediator’s role is to disengage the parties from the conflict and to focus on the good of their shared past and why their present and future will be shaped by their positive efforts in resolving the conflicts through mediation.
  • To enhance his role as a peace centered mediator, Steven B. Schmidt has walked a personal journey of attitudinal healing to find peace of mind. In doing so, he recommends others read the publications of Gerald Jampolsky, MD/Psychiatrist and Diane Cirincione, PHD. Gerry and Diane have given Steve a special gift by even including Steve in their Attitudinal Healing website.
  • A few principles taken from “A MINI COURSE FOR LIFE written by Gerry and Diane, with a forward by Carlos Santana the noted musician are helpful to consider for people entering the mediation process:

“1. One of the main purposes of time is to enable us to choose what we want to experience. Do we want to experience peace or do we want to experience conflict?

4. We can’t always change other people or the world in which we live. We can change how we perceive the world, how we perceive others, and how we perceive ourselves.

6. We experience our state of mind projected outward. If our mindset is one of well-being, love and peace, that is what we project and therefore experience. If our mindset is one of conflict, self-centeredness and fear, that is projected outward and becomes our experience.”

ATTACK AND DEFENSE. When we perceive another person as ‘attacking’ us, we usually feel defensive and find a way, directly or indirectly, to ‘attack’ back. Attacking always stems from fear. No one attacks unless he or she first feels threatened and believes that through attack, one’s own strength is demonstrated at the expense of another’s vulnerability. As with all defenses that are designed to keep guilt and fear from awareness, attack actually preserves the problem.

Most of us cling to the belief that ‘attacking’ can really get us something we want. We seem to forget that ‘attacking’ and ‘defending’ do not bring inner peace. In order to experience peace instead of conflict, it is necessary to shift our perception. Instead of seeing others as attacking us, we can choose to see them as fearful…

FORGIVENESS. The principle underlying the “MINI COURSE FOR LIFE” is that inner peace can be reached only when we practice forgiveness. Forgiveness is letting go of the past and is therefore the means for correcting our misperceptions about someone or something.

Our misperceptions can only be undone in the present. We accomplish this through releasing what we think other people did to us or what we think we did to them. Through this process of selective forgetting, we are free to enhance a present unencumbered by our past history or perceptions.”

Professional Qualifications.
Steve’s bio preparing him for mediation is as follows:

While everyone needs to be humble and to live in the world of reality, individuals desiring to engage in mediation want to know why they should choose Steve to mediate their case. Quite simply, Steve is known in the legal and judicial communities as a mediator that “does not quit” in trying to find options for the parties to resolve all of their issues. While judges cannot endorse any particular individual for mediation, a judge that has referred many difficult cases for Steve to mediate, or as an early neutral financial evaluator, has introduced Steve to audiences with lawyers and judges at training sessions by stating, “Steve is known as the ‘closer’. He settles the vast majority of cases referred to him.” Steve receives referrals from lawyers and judges for mediation and neutral evaluations throughout the state from Preston, Rochester, St. Cloud, Duluth and the Twin City metro area.

Gender Balance/Neutrality.
During the years Steven B. Schmidt practiced family law, his client base included women and men with no favoritism or bias towards either gender or the issues involved in representing those genders. Similarly in his mediation practice, Steve takes great care to ensure that he gives no perception of favoritism to either party or either gender and always conducts himself as a neutral focusing on resolving the interests of both parties.

Mediation Expenses.
The mediation expenses under MRCP Rule 114 are typically paid equally by each party participating in the mediation. The alternative dispute resolution Rule 114 was presumable written to ensure that both parties are equally invested in the neutral process and who is paying the cost of mediation cannot be perceived as having an impact of jeopardizing the neutrality of the mediator. At times, the parties may agree to use joint assets to fund the cost of mediation. Typically, Steve requires all preparation materials be provided to him in advance of the mediation session and generally it takes approximately one hour to review tax returns/schedules of assets and liabilities, etc. The mediation session itself is typically structured for three hours. At times, the parties and their attorneys may decide to engage in an all-day mediation, particularly if the matter is scheduled for trial. Arrangements are made with Steve’s legal assistant to pre-pay the mediation sessions either by check or credit card. Rates for the mediation may be obtained from Steve’s legal assistant. In mediation Steve frequently uses the term “shared pain and shared gain” for a perspective of the cost of mediation. The parties share the pain of paying for mediation but they share the gain to the extent they resolve their conflicts or disputes by not having to extend further sums for financial, vocational, parenting and legal experts.

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