What happens when seniors face major life transitions and their adult children are embroiled in painful and unrelenting conflict? Issues like residence decisions, distribution of caregiving responsibilities, safety and health concerns, wills and estates, the sale of the family home, and more can divide a family for years to come. When communication is difficult and critical decisions are put on hold, families may need the help of a skilled mediator to get them "unstuck" so they can move forward.
What Is Elder Mediation?
Elder mediation provides a forum for family decision-making. It is private, confidential and completely voluntary. Mediators facilitate a purposeful and directed conversation in which family members are encouraged to express their interests and concerns. Meetings are informal and are held in locations which meet the family's needs, including private homes, mediators' offices and senior living facilities. The mediator is a highly skilled conflict resolution expert and a neutral facilitator who does not provide advice or "takes sides" in these discussions. The goals of mediation are twofold. First to allow families to create workable and mutually acceptable solutions to their difficult disputes and second to develop communication strategies to enable them to successfully work together to make important decisions in the future.
Mediation isn't a "last resort" forum without the lawyers. Elder mediation is just as effective, and often more effective, at the beginning of the decision-making process - when people are fact finding, struggling with options and discovering feelings about their parents, their siblings or other family members. The process of mediation allows families to develop creative solutions to challenges in a way that the courts cannot. For courts rarely have the time or resources to explore options that would reflect the best interests of the senior while avoiding protracted family conflict.
Mediation is efficient. No long-drawn-out proceedings followed by potential appeals and more proceedings...all the while damaging the family, upsetting the senior, and draining finances
Some family disputes reach the point where litigation proceedings have begun or have been threatened. By employing mediation, families are able to keep their conflict out of a courtroom. Courts are not charged with developing creative solutions; a judge makes decisions based only on his or her interpretation of applicable laws.
Additionally, the adversarial nature of litigation, courtroom proceedings can destroy already fragile relationships. Accordingly, when families go to court, even the "winners" often lose. In mediation, family members can control both the process and the outcome rather than leaving it in the hands of attorneys and judges. And it means that all family members can be heard.
Finally, because the parties control the process, in most cases mediation is significantly less costly than litigation both emotionally and in terms of time and money.
Contact Laura Alpert today to discuss if Mediation is right for you.