There is a common observance among lawyers: In family law, the parents fight over the children; in elder law, the children fight over the parents.

Cute girl blowing alphabet blocks while family looking at it in house

Sadly, this is often true and can lead to costly litigation. What starts out as a dispute among siblings as to whether a parent should reside with one of them can end up being a court case. When that happens, our firm is there to represent a party who wants to make sure his or her interests are protected.

Of course on one hand, it is great to “win” in court and have your rights vindicated. On the other hand, it’s family you’re arguing against, so sometimes a settlement where everyone has a voice at the table can be better than giving all the power up to the judge.

Coming from farming country, I saw far too many families break up over the issue of who got the family farm. It was sad to see brothers and sisters estranged for the rest of their lives because of the fight over the family business.

Now I am seeing the same thing but with the issue of who gets to make decisions about mom or dad or a disabled adult child. This is not “capture the flag,” ladies and gentlemen. The “winner take all” attitude can damage your children, grandchildren and future generations. Is that the legacy you want for your extended family? I suggest not because a house divided cannot stand.

Mediation and cooperative agreements can avoid the family tree being ruined over an issue where every party wants a voice and a seat at the table. This is best though not always possible. If all the parties are not willing to compromise, there will not be a settlement. You only control your part of this effort.

If an agreement is NOT reached, Andersen Law PC is there to take the case to trial, presenting evidence and testimony to make your side of the story clear to the judge, magistrate or arbitrator. Don’t get me wrong — I LOVE to go to trial. I am a litigator (meaning one of the 10 percent of attorneys who actually go to court) and that means I love to present my witnesses, cross-examine the other side and present legal arguments to the judge.

However, there is no reason to go to court if you can get a better result by agreement. Our firm sometimes settles the day of hearing. Often, at that point, the issues are so clear that the parties know pretty much what they expect the court to say. Better to reach a fair agreement for all concerned than to incur more time, stress and hassle with the person in the black robe dictating something no one likes.

Whatever the result, we are with you every step of the way to present options and help you receive the best possible result based on the facts, the law and the parties’ ability to craft creative results.

As with divorce and custody, probate litigation requires an attorney to look at all sides of the issue and all options, presenting strategies but also letting the client decide how to proceed. Sometimes going to court is the best way. Often not. Either way, you want an attorney who puts you first and not an attorney who stirs things up in order to line his or her pocket book. In my opinion, that is the worst possible outcome and it happens more than it should.

I personally promise to put you first. Another case will always come along for me, but this is your one chance to do it right in order to protect your family for generations to come. Whether by court order or agreement, make sure you do it fairly and with an advocate helping you voice your opinion and stand up for your rights. It may not feel good at the time to settle a case, testify on the stand or hear a judge tell you where your parent will live, but that is our judicial system. Having the right advocate is paramount. Your family and you deserve nothing less.


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