Family court services

Hennepin County's Family Court Services division works with the Fourth Judicial District Family Court to assist families in resolving custody and parenting time disputes. We work toward reducing family conflict and promoting healthy communities by creating child-centered solutions for families.

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Court-ordered services

Court referred mediation

State qualified mediators assist families in resolving child custody and parenting time disputes. This process is confidential and only approved agreements are shared with the court.

Time required: Typically one to two 90 minute sessions

Costs: Sliding fee scale for mediation (PDF)

Benefits for families: Parents remain the decision-makers for their children with reduced conflict and court involvement

Early neutral evaluation (ENE)

Parents meet with a team of male-female evaluators who listen to each party and provide statute-based feedback on custody and parenting time concerns and assist parents in reaching agreements. If parents have attorneys, the attorneys are required to attend. This process is confidential and only approved agreements or recommended next steps are shared with the court.

Time required: One three hour session and follow up sessions scheduled as needed

Costs: Sliding fee scale for early neutral evaluation (PDF) 

Benefits for families: Parents remain the decision-makers for their children with reduced conflict and court involvement

Brief focused assessment

An evaluator works with parents to complete an assessment of one or two specific issues related to custody or parenting time disputes. The evaluator then provides a report for the court.

Time required: Multiple appointments over 60 to 90 day time period

Costs: Sliding fee scale for brief focused assessment (PDF) 

Benefits for families: Less time and cost for families than a full evaluation, and findings can help the court determine what is best for children

Custody and parenting time evaluation

An evaluator meets with parents and recognized third parties through a series of interviews, parent-child observations and home visits. The evaluator will also interview the children and gather information from professionals involved with the family, like teachers or counselors. The evaluator then provides a comprehensive report with recommendations to the court.

Time required: Multiple appointments over a 120 day time period

Costs: Sliding fee scale for custody and/or parenting time evaluation (PDF) 

Benefits for families: Court decisions are more likely to be in the best interests of the children

*Some clients may be eligible for the facilitated settlement conference fee scale. Please speak to your evaluator for more information. 


For more information on any of these services, contact Family Court Services at 612-348-7556.

Self-referred services

Self-referred mediation

State qualified mediators assist families in resolving child custody and parenting time disputes. This process is confidential and copies of the agreements are provided directly to the parties.

Time required: Typically one or two 90-minute sessions

Costs: Sliding fee scale for mediation (PDF)

Benefits for families: Parents remain the decision-makers for their children with reduced conflict and court involvement

Eligibility requirements

  • Both parties must request and agree to the mediation
    • The second party must contact our office within 14 days of the initial request
    • Family Court Services will not contact a party on the behalf of another
  • At least one party must live in Hennepin County
  • Family Court Services cannot provide services when there is an active court order restricting one person’s contact with the other, unless the order allows for mediation services

Interested in self-referred mediation? Apply online by completing the self-referred mediation request form.

Self help

Family Court Services does not provide legal advice or address financial issues like child support. For more information on these issues, you can use one of the following self-help programs:

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