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What is Mediation?

Here is a cute video produced by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs which explains mediation using fables.  This example mediation is closer to how a commercial and elder mediation would work moreso than a divorce mediation (where the issues are more defined, the discussion more focussed and caucuses rarely occur).  The video opens in a new window.

Hat tip: Diane Levin

Bill Restricting NJ Inheritance and Matrimonial Matters where a Crime was Committed Signed into Law

As I wrote about previously, the bill in the New Jersey Legislature restricting inheritance and matrimonial matters where a serious crime has been committed was signed into law by Governor Corzine last week.  Among the provisions of the new law:

  • Prohibits courts from ordering retainer or counsel fees of a convicted attempted murderer or conspirator be paid by the intended victim of that crime.
  • No person convicted of murder, manslaughter, criminal homicide, or aggravated assault could receive alimony if the crime results in death or serious bodily injury to a family member of a divorcing party, and the crime was committed after the marriage or civil union.
  • A person convicted of an attempt or conspiracy to commit murder could not receive alimony from the person who was the intended victim or be awarded equitable distribution.  The bill defines “family member” as “a spouse, child, parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, first cousin, grandparent, grandchild, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, stepparent, stepchild, stepbrother, stepsister, half brother, or half sister, whether the individual is related by blood, marriage, or adoption.”
  • A parent of a decedent would lose all right to intestate succession and all right to administer the estate if:
    1. The parent refused to acknowledge the decedent or abandoned the decedent when the decedent was a minor by willfully forsaking the decedent, failing to care for and keep the control and custody of the decedent so that the decedent was exposed to physical or moral risk without proper and sufficient protection, or failing to care for and keep the control and custody of the decedent so that the decedent was in the care, custody and control of the State at the time of death;
    2. The parent was convicted of committing any of the following crimes against the decedent:  (a) sexual assault; (b) criminal sexual contact;(c) endangering welfare of children;
    3. The parent was convicted of an attempt or conspiracy to murder the decedent; or
    4. The parent abused or neglected the decedent and the abuse or neglect contributed to the decedent’s death.

Amazingly, none of these were illegal despite the fact that this conduct should shock the conscience.

NPR Story on Elder Mediation

The longer lifespans of Americans combined with family issues have created (or in some cases exacerbated) existing family disputes and conflict.  Issues and conflicts which have become more common include:

  • If/when to “take away” a parent’s driver’s license/car keys
  • Inheritance issues with the re-marriage of a parent later in life
  • Which sibling takes care of a parent who can no longer live on their own
  • When and how to make the decision to place a parent in some type of assisted living arrangement
  • When to end a life when the elder’s wishes are not clear (similar to Terri Schiavo’s case)

These disputes have the common threads of loss of freedom for the elder person balanced against the caring for the safety of the elder person by their children.  There is also a theme of sibling rivalry and the playing (or replaying) out of disputes that often began in childhood, but now in an adult context with the parent as trigger.

A mediator as an impartial third party can often help the family sort out these very emotional issues.  I am trained as an elder mediator and will shortly be launching another website dedicated to this area of my mediation practice.

National Public Radio recently featured a story on elder mediation.  If you are having family conflict over later in life issues, please contact me to see how I can help.

NJ Foreclosure Mediation Video

The NJ courts have started a You Tube Channel and their first video is about the court’s foreclosure mediation program.  The video is below and contains all the details about the program, of which I’ve written before.