When clients call with a problem involving family conflict, they often don’t believe that their situation could be helped by using a facilitated meeting or elder mediation. They might be wrong. Here are some examples of cases where a meeting or mediation could assist the parties to reach resolution:

Conflict related to guardianship proceedings. This type of case might include allegations of improper care, neglect, financial abuse, or charges of undue influence. The dispute might involve whether a guardianship is the best option, or who should be appointed guardian.

Conflict among family members over the care of a parent diagnosed with dementia. A case like this might include allegations of isolation, control over calls and visits, or disputes over care options or courses of treatment. Issues might include how information will be shared, how decisions will be made, and the different roles for each family member. A mediation or facilitated discussion might include obtaining information or advice from a medical provider or geriatric care manager.

A dispute among family members about end-of-life decision making for an incapacitated elder. A facilitated meeting might address who will participate in the medical or end-of-life discussions, and in the event of a lack of consensus, who will ultimately make the decisions.

A dispute between a professional guardian or trustee and family members over care of an elder, or use of financial resources. This might arise because of a legal challenge asking to have the professional removed or replaced as fiduciary, or because the professional is having difficulty dealing with family members. The request might be initiated by the professional fiduciary, or the unhappy family member.

A dispute among family members over distribution of parent’s assets. This type of dispute might occur after the death or disability of the parents, and might include a family run business, a family home, vacation property, the distribution of personal property.

Conflict where at least one party believes the problem is at impasse.Parties in dispute often believe that their conflict is too intense, and that no resolution is possible without going to court. They have either stopped communicating or reached impasse trying to settle a dispute on their own. The reality is that mediation works. Parties don’t seek the services of a mediator if they could resolve the dispute on their own.The vast majority of cases that go to mediation will reach resolution, no matter how far apart the parties are at the outset.