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 in the midst of an elder abuse case, you may be wonder which one is right for you?
What Is Mediation?
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 participate in mediation or alternative dispute resolution before being allowed to move forward with a trial.
Mediation is a good way to seek a compromise resolution that preserves relationships. It gets parties who don't agree to sit down and discuss their differences in a calm, controlled setting. 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.
Mediating Elder Abuse Disputes
For elder abuse disputes among family, mediation can be a better way to resolve an elder abuse matter. It causes fewer hard feelings and may lead to a better understanding between parties (this is part of the idea). If you want to be able to sit down with that family member come the holidays, sitting down in mediation is the better option.
When Litigation Is a Better Choice
Yet some cases are simply going to trial due to the nature of elder abuse cases. It might involve significant, willful cases of neglect or abuse. Maybe it's a particularly divisive case that has polarized a family and caused a lot of ill will. Or it might involve such disputed facts and understandings as to the situation that a judge or a jury has to decide it.
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.
So What's Best for You?
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 elder law attorney about it as consequences certainly abound with either choice.