Monday, May 16, 2011
Could a Family Mediator Help You?
Many people are now aware that mediators can help couples who are planning to separate or divorce. But the strong connection between “family mediation” and “divorce” is unfortunate. Mediators can do much more, and have a significant role to play in many different kinds of conflicts within families. Here is just a partial list of the sorts of situations where a mediator might help.
Discussions across generations. Even well-adjusted and loving families can have disagreements over difficult issues. A mediator can help adult siblings and their parents in coming to resolutions about the following:
• Eldercare decisions regarding residence, caretaking plans, medical treatment
• Estate planning and dispersal
• Succession planning in family businesses
• Shared use of vacation properties
Couples’ Concerns. It is regrettable that few people know about the role that mediation can play in helping couples stay together and work through their differences. Here are just a few areas where mediation can help couples improve communication and strengthen their relationships.
• Cohabitation agreements. (See my earlier posting on these.)
• Marital agreements.
• Differences in parenting styles
• Persistent disagreement and conflict – over financial decisions, life priorities, children’s education and religious upbringing, etc.
Separation and Divorce. Divorce and family breakdown are extremely stressful life events. Taking a non-adversarial, collaborative approach to resolving disputes can help reduce stress levels for everyone involved. A mediator can help with any or all of the following:
• Decisions about children’s basic living arrangements and schedule
• Decisions about holidays and vacations
• Decisions about children’s education and extra-curricular activities
• Financial issues, including child support and spousal support
• Decisions about how new partners and step-parents will fit into family life
Depending on your family and on the problem you’re facing, family mediation might be a good approach. The only way to know is to contact a mediator in your area and discuss your concern.