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Mediation and litigation are two different ways to resolve legal disputes. While mediation is often a part of litigation, it doesn't always have to be. Disputes can be mediated outside of litigation and lawsuits.
There are pluses and minuses for either choice, and either can be the better option depending on the case. If you're amidst an older adult abuse case, you may wonder which one is right for you.
Mediation is considered a form of 'alternative dispute resolution.' It involves a neutral third party who facilitates a discussion (between the parties to a legal dispute) focused on resolving the dispute.
Over the last few decades, as a result of how successful mediation has become, more and more courts have required litigants to participate in mediation or alternative dispute resolution before being allowed to proceed with a trial.
The mediation process is a good way to seek a compromise. This peaceful resolution can help preserve relationships with older persons, family members, caregivers, and other people involved in the family dynamic.
It gets parties who don't agree to sit down and discuss their differences in a calm, controlled setting. It can help with decision-making issues in estate planning, conservatorship, probate, health care decisions, or long-term care choices.
Also, it's generally less expensive than going through a trial and can keep the messy details of a case out of the public's eye. Typically both sides find a conflict resolution that is acceptable to everyone and protects their loved ones.
For older adult abuse disputes among families, mediation can be a better way to resolve an older adult abuse matter. It causes fewer hard feelings and may lead to a better understanding between parties. This is part of the idea of professional mediation services.
If you want to see that family member in the future without lasting tension and conflict, then mediation is the better option.
Some cases are going to trial simply due to the nature of older adult abuse cases. It might involve significant, willful cases of neglect or abuse.
Maybe it's a particularly divisive case that has polarized a family or adult siblings. It may have caused a lot of ill will. Or it might involve disputed facts and misunderstanding of the situation. In these cases, only a judge or a jury has a neutral mindset to decide a fair outcome.
While most cases settle before trial, litigation is the traditional way of resolving legal disputes. It's adversarial, with witnesses, evidence, cross-examination, and arguments. And it's not to be taken lightly -- lawsuits are serious, costly, and can ruin lives and relationships. But sometimes, it's necessary when family mediation isn’t enough.
You might have, at some level, an emotional sense of what's right for your case.
Is this something you should work out, or is this something you should stand up for? It's ok if you don't know, and it can help to speak to a local older adult law attorney about it. No matter what you pick, consequences certainly abound with either choice, so you should carefully weigh your options.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.