Professional mediators can help resolve family-business disputes.
Dad is conservative, but his daughter wants to expand the business. Or two brothers own equal shares of their company, but only one brings in business. Family businesses cause the thorniest problems. Dispute-resolution experts can help.
"We disentangle business issues from family issues,' explains Sam Margulies, a lawyer with the Dispute Resolution Group, in Montclair, N.J. Most mediators have degrees in law or counseling. Some work short-term to solve a specific problem, charging from $200 to $300 an hour. Others analyze an organization's structure to see how it may be complicating family relationships. That may cost from $1,500 to $3,000 a day.
The field is new, so finding a professional may take some effort. Get referrals from the Academy of Family Mediators (612-525-8670) or the Family Firm Institute (617-738-1591). Interview the mediators and some clients. -- Ellyn E. Spragins