Relationships within families can sometimes be strained – long term rifts can open up if problems are not dealt with. Mediation offers a safe and constructive setting for diverse family members to have difficult conversations: ie, siblings, grandparents and adult children. These conversations may cover a broad range of subjects, such as family businesses, inheritance/succession planning, and dealing with concerns about care for older people (this is sometimes known as Elder Mediation www.scottishmediation.org.uk/about/types-of-mediation/elder-mediation). We also support family members wishing to re-establish relationships after a period of conflict or difficulty.
Planning for succession is a taboo subject for many families. This means that difficult decision are often taken by a parent without the input or support of their children. Mediation can provide a calm, safe place in which to discuss the options for the family, so that parent(s) can make a will free from the fear that it may cause a rift.
The loss of a parent or other close relative is also a difficult time for families. As well as dealing with grief and loss, people are sometimes unhappy with the way things are being handled. It is not uncommon for family members to fall out and lose contact during this period, sometimes permanently. Again, mediation allows people to discuss these issues in a constructive way, focusing on finding practical solutions and avoiding family disputes.
Family businesses are at the heart of the British economy and their great strength is the loyalty, trust and commitment of family members. When disputes arise these qualities come under strain and it can be all the harder to resolve. We help family businesses have difficult conversations, drawing on our own business experience to provide a framework for problem-solving. It may also be helpful to involve other advisors, such as solicitors or accountants: our facilitative approach works well here, allowing everybody to work together to find a resolution.
Extract from ‘Mediating Family Property and Estate Conflicts: Keeping the Peace and Preserving Family Wealth’, by Jay Folberg
“These scenarios illustrate that family property and financial disputes, whether presented in the context of a suit for partition, a corporate fight, or a probate or trust case, are matters of the heart and the law. They present challenges for how emotions and family dynamics are to be weighed against and balanced with legal rights and obligations. A judicial decision or legal mandate may not address the underlying family conflict or fully resolve the dispute. The desire to resolve the conflict and preserve the family relationship is deeply embedded. In most family disputes there is a dissonance between wanting to win by being proven right and desiring to make peace within the family. The role of the mediator is to help the peace motivation prevail.
The participants in a family property or money dispute are more likely to reach a satisfactory agreement by talking and exploring options with the help of a mediator than they are by going through a judicial procedure in which a decision is imposed on them, whether by judicial decree or by an outcome negotiated by their lawyers. Blame and anger beget blame and anger. In mediation blame and anger can be lessened through understanding, and the parties are encouraged to develop a commitment to the process and to the agreement that they structure. Mediation is a proven way to avoid the long-term adverse consequences of litigating family property, inheritance, and trust disputes.”