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5 Strategies to Resolve Legal Family Conflicts

— August 10, 2021

There are many ways you can resolve legal family issues. Everything depends on your capacity to spend, willingness to cooperate, and many other considerations.

Everyone wants a happy family life. However, family relationships may turn sour because of disagreements and misunderstandings. No matter how hard a person may try to resolve problems in the hope of keeping their household intact, some family differences will, unfortunately, lead to legal family conflicts.

Thankfully, if you face legal family disputes, there are ways to help you resolve conflicts with other family members. Below are some of the top strategies you can take to settle legal problems arising from family conflicts:

  1. Parenting Coordination

Most parents want the best for their children. If they can, spouses want to shield their kids from problems and disagreements. However, when the affected parties cannot achieve amicable settlements, there may be deep-seated conflicts and litigious attitudes towards each other. 

In such cases, parenting coordination is an excellent legal family option. This method is a quasi-judicial conflict resolution that centers on the children’s mental, emotional, physical, and financial welfare that may be embroiled in their parents’ legal row.

Some of the things resolved through this approach include parental time, responsibilities, visiting rights, and other child-focused aspects. Family lawyers often deal with parenting coordination, but some other professionals, including social workers, mental health professionals, or family therapists, can also intervene.

  1. Mediation

Most family law disputes involve the separation of couples and may include custody battles. However, there are also family conflicts that involve siblings or parents versus children, just like the dispute between singer Britney Spears and her father. The reasons may be varied but often related to financial and estate issues. 

Mediation is a legal family conflict option available to those who want to settle things out of court and are willing to talk things out. In this kind of arrangement, a third-party mediator will assist the parties involved in identifying the problem and working on possible solutions. The mediator’s role is crucial because they’ll facilitate and create a discussion framework to reach an amicable settlement. 

It’s important to note that mediators won’t assist in the decision-making nor take anybody’s side. They won’t offer any legal advice, but they can help all parties reach an agreement.

Family of five walking along beach at sunset; image by Kevin Delvecchio, via
Family of five walking along beach at sunset; image by Kevin Delvecchio, via

If family members cannot stand being together in the same room or couples don’t want a face-to-face meeting, an arrangement called shuttle mediation can help resolve disputes out of court. In Adelaide, for instance, this process requires an intermediary or independent arbiter to talk to the involved parties onsite but separately. Despite the many successful mediation cases, this process may not be the most effective family dispute resolution option, especially when safety concerns or family violence are involved.

  1. Collaborative Law

What makes collaborative law different from other legal family conflict resolution options is that parties agree not to bring the dispute to court at the outset. So, everyone participating in this process wants to cooperate until a mutually acceptable agreement to settle financial, legal, and even emotional conflicts are achieved. 

Thus, aside from the conflicting parties, their respective lawyers, accountants, financial advisors, and even mental health professionals agree to work together to develop an out-of-court resolution.

  1. Arbitration

Of all the options to resolve legal family rifts, arbitration is the least popular. This type of settlement option is more common in commercial rather than family law. In Australia, arbitration cases have seen a slight uptick because the arrangement ensures a faster conflict resolution when compared to family courts, which are seeing a considerable backlog in recent years.

So, how does arbitration work? In this process, parties to the dispute consent to allowing a neutral third party, the arbiter, to make an equitable decision regarding specific family law issues, such as parenting, support, custody, or property concerns. The proceeding is like that in a court trial. The main difference is that arbitration is a private process. Plus, an arbitrator, instead of a judge, will decide on the merits presented. 

  1. Litigation

Most people will try to resolve things privately and outside of court proceedings for many reasons. Litigation can be a costly process to undergo, mainly because resolutions can stretch for months or even years. Another reason why people try out-of-court settlements is because of the uncertainty of a trial’s outcome. At least in other types of proceedings, you can negotiate or compromise to come up with an acceptable deal for all parties involved.

However, as mentioned earlier, there are just some disagreements that are so hard to resolve. There are also cases where family members aren’t cooperative, so failure to settle may drive you to file a lawsuit to encourage discussions and a resolution. Lastly, there are just some cases that parties cannot privately resolve, and this calls for a litigation proceeding.

Final Thoughts

There are many ways you can resolve legal family issues. Everything depends on your capacity to spend, willingness to cooperate, and many other considerations. If you plan to file for divorce or you have a conflict with your siblings because of inheritance matters, it would be best to consult with a lawyer so you know what steps to take to end the dispute.

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