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Mediation to Resolve Disputes

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When Barb Perusse moved to Sandpoint from Kansas City, Missouri back in 1999, she was burnt out from her job as a child abuse investigator for the state, and looking for a change of pace. “I decided to put my house up for sale, and if it sold I was going to move to Idaho,” she said. The house sold in an hour, and Barb was on her way west. She purchased Mountain Communications, a business that offered sales and service for cell phones and two-way radios, and started her new life.

But her passion for creating healthy families came right along with her; within a month she had joined with Marsha Ogilvie to work on Kinderhaven, a group foster home and emergency shelter for children in crisis, and eventually also became involved with CASA—Court Appointed Special Advocates—a program that advocates for the needs of children in the justice system. Working with families in crisis in order to provide healthy homes for children was an all-consuming interest, and a couple years ago she sold the cell phone business, undertook training in mediation, and is currently one of Bonner County’s only non-professional licensed mediators. (Attorneys and counselors are among those professionals who can also serve as mediators after undergoing specific mediator training.) With a masters degree in counseling, and an undergrad in business, she’s hung up her shingle on a small office in downtown Sandpoint providing mediation and consulting services to both individuals and businesses. She’s also organized a monthly personal growth group (www.SandpointSoulsinMotion.com) that offers the opportunity for participants to learn about and develop healthy behaviors while partaking in the physical activities—hiking or kayaking, for example—that we find so enjoyable here.

Barb’s consulting services rely on both her training and experience in family dynamics, and in owning and growing a successful business. From issues with personnel to developing a workable business plan, Barb guides business owners, board members, and other interested individuals toward discovering the best practices that will allow their business or group effort to grow and be successful.

But the mediation services are equally important to people who live in Bonner County and surrounding areas who are dealing with difficult compromises, particularly when families split due to divorce. Mediation can help families develop parenting plans (required by Idaho courts in divorces involving children) that truly work for an individual family’s situation.

“Mediation is all about being heard,” Barb explained. Even the most amicable separation can offer opportunities for conflict over issues ranging from the time children are exchanged to how to handle telephone calls from an absent parent. Regardless of the conflict, mediation gives each person a chance to air their concerns and endeavor to develop a working compromise. A publication from the Idaho State Bar states, “Mediation empowers the parties, giving them the opportunity to have a direct voice in and direct control over the outcome of their case. It gives the parties an opportunity to focus on the needs of their children and learn to communicate as co-parents regarding decisions that affect the lives of their family. What is important to the law may not be what is important to the family, and vice versa.”

While mediation may be ordered by a court, individuals looking for a neutral third party to help them reach an agreement prior to any legal action are free to seek mediation on their own as well.

“Divorce can be an expensive process,” Barb commented, “and mediation may offer a way for families to decrease that cost. My hope is that I can provide a service to families to help them develop a plan that actually works for the family as a whole.”

Those interested in talking to Barb about mediation services or about business consulting can call her at 208.290.2457 for additional information or to set up an appointment. Those interested in the Sandpoint Souls in Motion support group can visit the website (www.SandpointSoulsinMotion.com) or give Barb a call.

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Landon Otis

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Homepage, Headlines, Barb Perusse, Sandpoint Souls in Motion, mediation

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