Month March

  • Mediating Elder Law Issues

    March 30, 2012

    I attended a fascinating seminar yesterday presented by NJAPM on Mediating Elder Law issues.  Much like a divorce where family relationships add a layer of complexity to the legal issues, elder law issues may involve multiple generations and many family members.  Usually, the last thing the “elder” wants is for his or her family to fight over how to provide care for them.  Yet, the decisionmaking may be complicated by geography, economics, family history and emotions.

    As a family mediator, it was clear to me that using mediation techniques to resolve elder care issues is far more beneficial to the entire family then starting a court case.  The last thing a parent or grandparent wants is to have their family fight over their care.  Not to mention the fact that court proceedings are costly.

     I learned that a mediator can bring a Geriatric Care Manager to the table to provide options.  Geriatric care managers with a background in nursing or social work are trained to investigate all the options — from home care to nursing homes — interview the elder to determine his or her preferences and make recommendations to the entire family. 

    The benefits of mediating elder issues include minimizing conflict among family members;  valuing the concerns of all family members while focusing on the elder’s needs; and preserving assets by lowering the costs of resolution.  In addition, mediation will yield benefits in the future by improving communication among family members.

    For more information on mediation, contact Risa A. Kleiner, Esq. at 609.951.2222 or at

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  • 10 Reasons Why Mediation Works

    March 13, 2012

    1.  Mediation is private and confidential.  Litigation occurs in an open courtroom.  Not only is the courtroom open to the public, but NJ courtrooms are now wired for recording.  Mediation takes place in the mediator’s office with only the parties and the mediator present.  The mediator is not permitted to disclose the discssions or the outcome to any third party, including the court.

    2. Mediation is less expensive.  Litigation requires formal discovery and numerous court appearances.  Mediation takes less time and the parties share the cost of the mediator.  They consult their attorneys, but the attorneys do not usually attend mediation sessions, so attorney time and costs are contained.

    3.  Mediation is respectful.  Communication in litigation often becomes heated.  Parties have to listen to opposing attorneys make negative statements about them. Discussion in mediation is monitored by the mediator and the parties agree to respectful dialog.

    4.  Mediation is creative.  Mediation allows the parties to design solutions that work for them and the mediator helps by providing viable alternatives and options.  Judges lack the time to create solutions that fit individual cases and tend to resort to traditional outcomes.

    5.  Mediation is less stressful.   Talking privately in a mediator’s office with the goal of finding solutions is far less stressful than spending hours in court where the outcome is beyond each individual’s ability to control.

    6.  Mediation results in agreements that last.  Court-dictated outcomes are imposed on the parties, whereas mediated settlements are created by the parties.  When one or more litigants is unhappy with the outcome, it is more likely that the parties will have to return to court to enforce the agreement or seek to change it.

    7.  Mediation avoids the time pressure that court deadlines impose.  Faced with court deadlines, many litigants feel pressured to accept a settlement that may not work for them.  In mediation, each party has time to consider the outcome, consult with their attorney and come to a rational decision.

    8.  Mediation is child-friendly.  Instead of ratcheting up the hostility that often accompanies divorce, mediation turns down the heat and diffuses the conflict.  Nothing (including divorce) is worse for children than ongoing hostility and conflict between their parents.

    9.  Mediation allows each party to speak for themself.  No one knows your situation better than you.  Having the opportunity to express your concerns is priceless.

    10.  Mediation is successful.  The American Arbitration Association reports that 85% of all mediations (civil cases as well as divorces) are successful.    Family mediators report that fewer than 1 of 10 mediations fail.  Since the mediation is confidential, there is no downside to giving it a try. 

    For more information about Mediation or to set up an appointment, contact Risa A. Kleiner, Esq. at 609.951.2222 or via email at

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