Your parent died a few months ago. That, in and of itself, is tragic enough. You’re neck deep in the grieving process and unsure how to do it justice. You’re overwhelmed by the notion that many legal and financial things need to be taken care of to administer Mom or Dad’s estate. To top it off, your sibling is arguing with you everywhere you turn, demanding things be done a certain way, the way she/he wants. Sound familiar?
Unfortunately, most families erupt into some form of conflict after Mom or Dad passes away. It might be that you and your brother/sister are fighting over whether to sell or keep the family home. Maybe you two agree that you want to keep the family home but can’t decide harmoniously who will live in it and what the familial financial arrangements will be. Or maybe your sibling wants to buy you out. What’s a fair price for your family home? Should you give your sibling a below market sale price because that’s what family members do for each other?
If it’s not about your parent’s house, maybe you and your sibling have a drastically different understanding of what should happen with the family business. Should you liquidate it? Or perhaps your sibling wants to run the family business. Should you let your sibling have the family business? For what price?
These issues and many others plague the majority of families after the matriarch or patriarch dies. The emotional experience of grief weighs heavily on each family member, but that’s not all. Now there’s a legal dispute about property ownership on top of the pain of losing your loved one. If this isn’t your story, I bet you’ve seen it at least once before.
The confusion of how to proceed when entangled with a sibling dispute can feel crippling. You love your sibling and yet they’re being such a jerk! Why? You’re just trying to grieve the death of your parent and now your sibling is threatening legal action if you don’t make a decision by next week! How can you sort through the emotional grief and make a rational decision about the legal issues at the same time?
Now there’s a model that speaks to both sides of the dispute: the legal & the emotional. If you think about it, all legal problems were human problems before they became legal problems. Our emotions are inseparable from our human experience (even though we’re conditioned to leave our emotions outside). Imagine a conflict resolution model that provides simultaneous legal and emotional support. Imagine a pair of co-mediators that are committed to helping you and your sibling create a win-win solution that accounts for both the legal and emotional elements of your dispute. This pair of co-mediators consists of a licensed Attorney and a licensed Mental Health Professional. It’s called Integrative Mediation.
In Integrative Mediation, you and your sibling both receive support from two neutral facilitators who are experts in their respective fields. We work together to help you and your sibling identity the legal dilemma as well as the emotions that are holding the conflict in place. As a team, the four of us go to work dissecting the different levels of your family conflict and brainstorming solutions. Neither you nor your sibling are asked to give up what you care about or to compromise in the name of a so-so solution.
In this model, the lawyer-mental health professional duo creates a safe container for you and your sibling to communicate authentically about what really matters to you. By getting to the core of the issues, a clearing is created inside which a win-win agreement is often achieved. If you’re interested in receiving this type of professional mediation, please contact me or any other Integrative Mediator on our website (www.IMBayArea.com). We’ll set you and your sibling up with a complimentary consultation to see if Integrative Mediation is a good fit to resolve your family dispute.
28 Conn. L. Rev. 953 (1996)Copyright © 1996 by the Connecticut Law Review INTRODUCTION Computers don't just do things for us, they do things to us, including our ways of...By Ethan Katsh
There are three major characteristics of the Judeo-Christian model of peacemaking: (1) love, not justice, is the model’s first foundation, (2) reconciliation is the goal, and (3) mediation is the...By Kenneth C. Newberger