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Family Mediation—What to Do When the Family Unit Splinters

Wednesday, December, 28, 2011

It can be as simple as disagreements over teenage rebellion or it can be as complex as family abuse, divorce or issues in remarriage following divorce or the death of a parent. Whatever the reason, there all too often comes a time where family strife calls for the involvement of a referee, and family mediation is an avenue to pursue in situations that cannot be resolved by family counseling.


Marital Problems and Divorce Mediation


In many cases, marital problems are the cause of dysfunction in families. Spouses may have grown apart over fundamental differences of opinion, abuse and other problems. The children may be caught in the middle of this strife. If these problems are ultimately irreconcilable, then divorce may be in the future.


Ultimately, familial arbitration can prevent divorce or recommend it. Much of where the decision will go depends largely on how deep-seated the issues are, whether there is abuse or neglect present, as well as alcohol and drug abuse. In any case, it is better to seek mediation as early as possible to preserve the integrity of the family.


Child Mediation—Abuse, Rebellion, Custody and Emancipation


All too often, mediation between parents and their children is needed. The child may have hit a rebellious and life-endangering streak in their teens. The parents may be abusive or neglectful. The child may be of an age where they can voice their preferences in a divorce setting. Typically, these issues can be resolved with family counseling, but in some cases, they can end up in mediation.


If the child is determined to be disturbed or if the family unit is abusive, custody of the child may be awarded to the state and foster care situations can be considered. In certain cases where the child can prove their autonomy, the child may seek to be an emancipated minor.


In all cases of dysfunction in the family, it is advisable to seek help as early as possible. Family counseling can help in some cases, but if that fails, family mediation may be necessary to resolve family issues that could have legal ramifications. Given that these situations are usually highly emotionally charged, the parties should have attorneys present whenever possible.