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If you have kids, or if you’ve spent a lot of time around them, you know how inquisitive they can be! Children are still learning about the world and explaining the world of litigation can be a tough job. So what do you say when a child asks you, “What is litigation?”

Of course, you can’t give them the dictionary definition because it contains too many words they won’t understand. Litigation is generally described as the process of resolving disputes by filing or answering a complaint through the public court system. But how do you go about describing that to your child? Start with what they know!

Have them imagine that they’re on the playground at school. They’ve been playing on the jungle gym, but they decide to go over to the swing set with two friends. Now there are three people, but only two swings! Everyone starts arguing about who gets to play on the swings first. At this point, the kids have three options.

The first option is to negotiate between themselves. They can decide to take turns, each swinging for five minutes and trading off. If the kids can’t agree on the compromise on their own, then there’s a second option. They can bring in a fourth friend to settle their argument. If this friend can help them work out a compromise, great! However, if the kids can’t solve their problem on their own, it’s time for the third option. The third option is to look for someone in a position of authority. The children can go to a teacher to be a mediator. This is the equivalent of litigation!

Litigation is what happens when you have a problem that you can’t solve on your own. In order to solve the problem, you have to look for someone in a position of power who can be unbiased. This is a person who can help you decide what’s right and wrong. In the adult world, that happens in the legal system. Litigation sounds difficult, but in reality, it’s just the process of resolving problems!

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