Joseph P. Bluth


High Conflict Mediation and Arbitration Services, Chtd*.


P.O. Box 1102
Mankato, MN 56001


(507) 381-0270


(voice call first)


Mediation, Arbitration and Alternative Dispute Resolution


I guess somewhere along the way, I learned there actually is such a thing as "mindfulness," and I find it does improve the potential for better outcomes, at times with a mix of humor where appropriate. It's changed my perspective on how to assist people who are struggling to get through their most important family law disputes. My strategy is to help parties find a new approach to dealing with what are often very serious and heartfelt issues, which they need to resolve in a way that is best for all affected family members. I feel my work as a former trial lawyer and now as a mediator, and the extensive mediation and ADR training that I've had, gives me a unique ability to engage parties and get them to work through the problems differently, than they might when left to their own devices. Some of the personal experience I've gained from a wide range of jobs, diverse travels, a few years in the military, not to mention 40 years of marriage and parenting, is often useful when guiding parties who are attempting to navigate through such difficulties in search of a workable solution. I find that when given the right opportunity, parties in conflict usually want to end it - even if they don't say or act that way. Even in the most difficult cases, where people seem miles apart and see their situation as desperate, they are more likely to find a way out with the help of a neutral.  This is especially so in legal disputes, where the alternative to settlement is so costly and emotionally devastating.  I have a very real understanding on how to work with people who find themselves in this position.

I have spent over 40 years handling complex and highly contentious family, civil and criminal matters, including custody and parenting time disputes, in which addiction, domestic violence, child sexual and physical abuse, parental alienation, mental illness or other serious stressors were involved. My cases have included those  involving the rights of grandparents, adopted parents, soulmates, stepparents and "significant others." I am used to working in situations where dysfunction and family dynamics affect the proceedings and settlement efforts during a child or parent's personal injury, tort  or wrongful death claim.  I am accustomed to working on high profile and sensitive matters  involving healthcare, educator, military, law enforcement and other professionals, including cases where there are allegations of misconduct or malfeasance, such as drug abuse, white collar crime, sexual misconduct and racial harassment/discrimination, and resulting licensing issues.

Formally trained in the various types of mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods, I am a Qualified Neutral under Rule 114 of the Minnesota General Rules of Practice and I am trained and certified as an arbitrator by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, making me available to work as a mediator and arbitrator. I am ALI-ABA trained to perform under private contract as a Consensual Special Magistrate or Consensual Special Master. As a qualified neutral, with 40 years of legal experience, I am equipped for cases where there are considerable emotional issues, such as those involving international and out-of-state relocation, business/career/military demands, sexual orientation and multicultural stressors.

I have been trained and received my certificate in collaborative law by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, which enables me to work as a neutral in collaborative  law cases. Collaborative Law is a highly effective voluntary family law process couples may choose when separating or end their relationship, in which they work with the assistance of family professionals to achieve a settlement without the underlying threat of contested litigation. The couple, any involved attorneys and the assisting professionals all sign a contract (the Participation Agreement), binding each other to the process and disqualifying the lawyers and professionals from appearing in any related litigation if agreement cannot be achieved. The collaborative process can be used to settle any family issue, including disputes between parents, situations where parties arrange pre or post-marital contracts (i.e. where couples begin their relationship with consensual documents drawn up).  Typically, if a dispute arises, the parties and any lawyers that may be involved select a neutral to guide them to a resolution without having to resort to courtroom litigation, which is where I would be involved.

My work today has in many ways been shaped by the opportunities I've had to teach, to speak and present at family and criminal law seminars and conferences,  often in a collaborative effort with partners or other professionals, and often resulting in papers co-authored for legal or professional publication.  During my time in practice, I have had the good fortune of handling all types of Civil Liberties, Public Defender and Legal Aid cases. Even in these professional settings, I found there were competing interests that had to be met in order to reach a goal. To sum it up, the many personal and professional contacts that I've had lead me to one basic conclusion - that people from every walk of life are most always interested in maximizing the possibilty of a positive outcome.


Current Position:

Owner and Managing Officer, since 1987 (formerly Manahan & Bluth Law Office, Chtd.*)

Year Joined Firm:  



Altermative Dispute Resolution (ADR)  - Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution of Divorce, Custody & Family Law matters involving:

  • Parental Alienation

  • Sexual and/or physical abuse

  • Sexual Orientation, multicultural and diversity issues

  • Stressors due to business/career and international/relocation

  • Military Family issues

  • Support and maintenance, loss of employment or position

  • Domestic Violence and restraining orders

  • Grandparent, sibling & Significant Other visitations

  • Mental and Physical Disabilities

  • Blended family, eldercare, probate and real property concerns

 Additional Methods of ADR

  • Early Neutral Evaluation (S/ENE) of custody & parenting time; private or court appointed upon request)

  • Moderated Settlement Conference (where parties voluntarily engage neutral evaluator for pre-trial date negotiations to resolve all issues)

Services Provided  - 100% of Practice Devoted to Alternative Dispute Resolution

  • Mediation - Minnesota Rule 114 qualified neutral (40-Hour Family Mediation Training)

  • Early Neutral Evaluator - Completed all courses and requirements of Minnesota Judicial Branch>

  • Parenting Time Expeditor - Completed all courses and requirements of Minnesota Judicial Branch>

  • Moderated Settlement Conference Neutral - Completed all courses and requirements of Minnesota Judicial Branch>

  • Family Law Arbitration - Certified by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers

  • Special Master (by contract only ) - ALI-ABA trained for State/Federal

  • Special Consensual Magistrate (by contract only ) - ALI-ABA trained for State/Federal

  • Mediation and Arbitration of Collaborative Law Cases

  • Civil Litigation assistance by mediating interpersonal disputes between Parents/Children

Professional Profile:

Bar Admissions:

  • Minnesota, 1978

  • Wisconsin, 1991 (inactive status/retired)

  • U.S. District Court District of Minnesota, 1978

  • U.S. Supreme Court, 1994


Hamline University School of Law, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1977
J.D., Doctor of Jurisprudence
Law Review: Formulation Committee, 1977

Honors: Graduated Cum Laude

Mankato State University, Mankato, Minnesota, 1975
B.A., Bachelor of Arts
Honors: Honor Roll, Dean's List
Major: Political Science  Minor: English


Representative Cases:

Torkelson v. Torkelson, 373 N.W.2d 630 (Minn.App. 1985)

Anderson v. Anderson , 560 N.W.2d 729 (Minn.App.,1997)


Classes/Seminars Taught:

Former Lecturer, Art Masterpiece, School District 77, 1991 - 1997; present program

Adjunct Professor, Mankato State University, 1992 - 1994

Instructor, Criminal Law and Court System 


Honors and Awards:

United States Army

  • Bronze Star

  • Paratrooper Badge

  • Army Medal of Commendation

Best Lawyers in America, 1997 to present

  • Minnesota Top 25 Family Law Lawyers

Named by Minnesota Law & Politics:

  • SuperLawyer 2003 to present

  • Minnesota's Top 40 Family Law Lawyers - 2007

Minnesota Law and Leading Lawyers, 1995 - 2002

Who's Who in American Law, 1996 - 2002


Professional Associations and Memberships:

American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
Member, Past President and Board of Governors - Minnesota Chapter


Inns of Court -  Douglas Amdahl Chapter, Minneapolis

Member - Master of the Bench


Association of Family and Conciliation Courts



Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice
Former Member, Past President 1989 – 1990


Association of Trial Lawyers of America

Former Member, Past Chair of Family Law and Criminal Law Sections   

Minnesota Trial Lawyers Association
Former Member, Past Chair Family Law Section and  Board of Managers

Litchfield Chapter of Rotary International
Former Member & President


Past Employment Positions:

  • United State Army, 1968 - 1971 (Vietnam, 1969 - 1971)

  • Todd County Attorney's Office, Assistant County Attorney

Past Pro Bono Activities:

  • Todd County Child Protection Team

  • Legal Aid Volunteer Attorney

  • Cub Scout Packmaster, Mankato, 1991 - 1992

Personal Information:

  • Born - January 5, 1950, Minneapolis, Minnesota

  • Married to JoAnn M. Bluth since 1973

  • Three children - Peter, Tony & Carrie

Other Practice Considerations:

To advance effectiveness as a Mediator, Arbitrator, State and Federal Special Master and Consensual Special Magistrate, membership with the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts is maintained for an interdisciplinary and international association with professionals dedicated to the resolution of family conflict.


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