Family Issues

Conflicts can arise within families and extended families, despite the best intentions. As individuals, we all have different ideas and expectations about the “best” way to handle a situation or issue. With their own unique dynamics, family relationships may exacerbate those conflicting expectations and interests to the point that reasonable discussions are very difficult.

Bellingham Mediation can help families  tough and emotional issues such as:

  • Parent – Child / Teen Issues
  • Step-parent and Blended Family Issues
  • Elder Care / Adult Mental Health Issues
  • Probate or Estate Issues
  • Family Business Issues

Bellingham Mediation helps family members identify and express their individual interests and perspectives, generate and discuss options to resolve the issues, and draft a mutually acceptable agreement on how to resolve or handle the issues involved.

Bellingham Mediation maintains the utmost confidentiality with regard to all mediations.

Parent-Teen Mediation

Parenting a teenager can be very challenging as your young adult strives for independence and pushes their behavioral boundaries. Many parents fall back on the reactive strategies their own parents used, only to push their teens further away. Sheri Russell initially provides parents and teens with an individual and confidential space to vent their issues, while helping each identify their interests and options to address the issues.  Sheri then helps parents and teens together calmly discuss the issues, interests and options, and create parent-teen contracts which address the current issues and circumstances, and include provisions for partial- or non-compliance and changes in circumstances. This process helps parents begin to view their teen as a young adult, helps teens begin to take responsibility for their actions, and helps both better understand and empathize the other’s perspectives.  In addition, Sheri coaches parents on communication and strategies specifically for parenting teenagers and middle schoolers.

It was such a comfort having Sheri help us through this process. Her mediation style is wonderful.

Step-Parent and Blended Family Mediation

New partners, other children, new children, a whole new family dynamic. These situations pose challenges that are unique to each family situation, but often have common elements: raw emotions, misunderstandings, difficult communication, respect, trust, privacy and parenting challenges. Mediation provides each family member an opportunity to meaningfully discuss the issues, interests and options; and to create plans to resolve conflict and improve communication, trust and respect. Sheri also coaches family members on communication and strategies to address challenges.

Elder Care / Mental Health Mediation

Caring for aging parents or adults with mental health issues requires a balance between respecting an adults’ wishes and needs, and the family members’ desire to make sure their loved ones are safe and comfortable and their assets are protected.  Discussions regarding housing, powers of attorney, financial management and potential guardianships are difficult and emotional.  Sheri Russell helps families calmly identify and discuss the issues, what additional information is needed, and the pros and cons of the various options in order to reach a mutually acceptable agreement.

Probate or Estate Mediation

When a loved one passes away, disputes over the distribution of assets or handling of the estate may arise, straining relationships and leading to drawn out court proceedings. The Trust and Estate Dispute Resolution Act (TEDRA) came into effect on January 1, 2000 in Washington State, and provides a framework for families to resolve these disputes. Sheri helps families discuss and resolve issues surrounding wills and estates such as competency of a decedent, claims by family members, third-party claims, and distribution of assets when no will exists. A mediated TEDRA agreement is a legally binding contract that governs disputes between interested parties. The agreement can be kept confidential from the public as well as successor beneficiaries.

Sheri is a very skilled mediator.  She is understanding, respectful, practical and thorough.  She is a huge asset to those needing mediation services in our community.  I appreciate how she kept us focused on the issues at hand. – Skagit Estate Attorney

Family Business Mediation

Family businesses are another area where emotions, family history and dynamics and mixed expectations can all collide and strain relationships and hinder calm, rational communication. Mediation provides the opportunity to calmly discuss the issues, underlying interests, needs and expectations, identify and discuss all possible options, and create plans to help families move forward.


Bellingham Mediation & Consulting maintains the utmost confidentiality with regard to all its cases and clients.