Simone is a certified mediator and earned a graduate of laws degree in 2013 in dispute resolution (mediation and ADR). She has provided training to new mediators and parenting coordinators in the St. Louis Metropolitan area and presented on topics related to negotiation and mediation. She has also contributed in the development of specific court-connected ADR programs, including parenting coordination and volunteer mediation; and pursued research in parenting coordination.
- Mediation is a confidential process where a neutral mediator assists disputing parties reach an agreement. Mediation can be ordered by the court in certain situations but is also frequently used by agreement of the parties, often before action is taken at court. Mediation is also used to solve problems that will never become court actions such as family, organizational and community problems.
- A mediator does not and should not make decisions for the parties and should work to ensure that there is a reasonable exchange of information; that both parties feel heard and understood; that the process is fair and both parties can participate in negotiations; that unreasonable positions are discussed in a safe manner; and that neither party feels that there is duress or unreasonable pressure applied to obtain an agreement.
- Mediators must stay neutral and cannot provide specific legal advice to either party and cannot take a side in the dispute.
- Research indicates that a significant number of disputants are able to reach agreement using mediation and that parties are usually more satisfied with a process where they feel heard; they participate directly in creating solutions; and where further damage to their relationship is prevented and where communication can be improved.
- Mediators use a number of negotiation and communication tools to help the parties understand and consider information. To help parties understand more complex or difficult information, mediators can also use financial planning tools, offer educational material, and bring other professionals with specific knowledge or expertise into the mediation process, such as mental health professionals, accountants, business valuation experts, financial planners, vocational coaches, and real estate professionals.
- Parenting Coordinators are appointed by the court to help parents who have a high degree of conflict manage communication; make decisions for their children; and interpret their parenting plan. Parenting Coordinators should have a firm understanding of both the legal process and the emotional and psychological factors of co-parenting relationships and conflict within a family.
- Parenting Coordinators use different tools to help support parents including education, coaching, and mediation with the goal of helping parents reduce their conflict by creating new patterns of behavior so that their children can thrive.
- Parenting Coordinators are given limited authority to make decisions for parents when necessary but cannot make changes to the parenting plan itself. Most parenting coordinators will use coaching and mediation as tools to try to resolve a disagreement before making a decision. Decisions should always be made with “due process” (notice to the parties accompanied by an offer of a hearing process) and timely (by issuing a decision that can be reviewed by the court).
- The process of parenting coordination is usually tailored for the particular family and should consider concerns, such as a history of domestic violence, so that all members of the family feel safe.