Family Mediation

The issues that trigger family disputes are many and varied. Two common areas are Child Rearing and Adult Family Mediation. As a rule, they are highly emotional. Adult Family Mediation involves conflicts between grown siblings or grown siblings and their parents. The latter often includes arguments over the care of an elderly parent (eldercare).


For the first time in history, the average couple in this country has more living parents than children.

The fact that our parents are living longer means that they are confronting a host of issues such as cognitive and physical impairment and the cost of long term care. This has reversed the parent-child paradigm. Now, it is the children who must care for their parents.  

Adult Family Mediation resolves disputes among families relating to the care of an elderly parent. The decisions siblings face about providing care for their parents are complicated by financial, medical, geographical, legal and emotional factors. Siblings with the best of intentions often disagree on the best way to handle these issues.

How Adult Family Mediation Works

The first step for the family is to decide who will be present at the mediation. In addition to the siblings, the group could include one or both parents (if mentally and/or physically capable) spouses, and grandchildren. Sometimes, a parent’s caregiver such as a geriatric care manager and other professionals can be included if all parties agree.

Before the family comes together for the first time, I will contact each individual separately to hear their concerns and to familiarize myself with the case. I will then convene the family for a full mediation. The family mediation usually lasts a full day.  If successful, the mediation results in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) listing all the points the family has agreed upon which I will then write up for the family members to sign.

Below is a sample of the issues that Adult Family Mediation covers:

  • Family dynamics: how family members relate to each other including past family history and how the family has traditionally dealt with conflict
  • Power of Attorney
  • Guardianship
  • Healthcare Proxy
  • Capacity (the mental ability of the parent to take part in the mediation)
  • Medical issues
  • Long Term Care facilities
  • Financial  and Estate Planning:  selling the house; the division of assets and debts; paying for long term care
  • Dividing personal possessions

Sibling – Sibling Disputes

Conflicts between siblings range from business disputes to intensely personal issues. Because siblings have a long, shared history together, the roots of these conflicts may be decades old.

Here are some of the problems sibling – sibling mediation addresses:

  • Division of property from Wills and Estates
  • Misunderstandings due to poor communication
  • Family Occasions
  • Shared family expenses
  • Business disputes

Child Rearing

Parents can love each other and their children and still argue over the best way to raise them. Disagreements can be precipitated by religious, medical, educational, and dietary issues. Conflicts over time spent watching television and playing computer games are very common and growing. Every age gives rise to a different set of problems. The list is endless. But when these disputes begin to disrupt family harmony, it is time to consider Family Mediation.

Mr. Gessner is also a director at The Center for Family Reconciliation.

For a free consultation, email Hal Gessner at or call 917 453-5712.