Stephen Evans – an interview

Stephen Evans, professional family mediator

October 2016

1. Who are you? Where do you come from? What is your background?

I am a reformed operator of restaurants, retail properties, and commercial real estate development. I was born and raised in Cupertino, California back some twenty years ago, when fruit trees seemed to dominate the valley. I now reside in beautiful Northern Idaho up near the Canadian border in the small resort town of Sandpoint. I started my mediation practice in 2008 and have been a full-time mediator since 2010.

2. What do your current professional practice and activities look like?

Originally, I set up a family mediation practice in Sandpoint and mediated divorce and custody cases from Sandpoint and the small towns surrounding it.  Over the course of a few years, the practice grew and we opened a second office in Hayden, Idaho. Although our offices are only 40 miles from each other, the Hayden office opened up a huge opportunity to grow the practice further, as it is located near Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho. With the opening of our second office, we are undergoing a name change from Sandpoint Mediation to Center for Family Mediation and we recently went live with our new website, centerforfamilymediation.com.  My time is shared equally between the two offices and I spend about two thirds of my time mediating divorce and custody cases.  The remainder of my time is spent working with parents in the co-parenting education process which my partner I have created; it is called Solution Focused Co-Parenting Education.  The process was designed to assist high-conflict parents to develop co-parenting skills, conflict-resolution skills, and effective communication, in addition to mediating co-parenting agreements and parenting time.  The co-parenting program takes quite bit of my time on a weekly basis and is a wonderful filler to my typical mediation workload.

3. How did you first learn about mediation?

I was introduced to mediation by my partner, who is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and had been working with high-conflict custody cases in a variety of roles.  Tami was planning to attend the basic 40-hour training in mediation, and thought I might be interested as well.  I decided to attend the training and I really enjoyed learning the basic process.  I quickly discovered that the skills from my background in business and consulting prepared me well to be a mediator.  I realized then that, if I could be successful as a mediator, I could do it forever and now cannot ever see myself doing anything else. I believe the edge in becoming a successful mediator is to always keep learning, always keep challenging yourself, be willing to incorporate new tools, and always stay neutral.  Most of all, always remember to be responsible for the process and let the clients be responsible for their own outcome.

4. What do you hope to accomplish as a Board Member of APFM?

I hope to inspire the Board to continue seeking opportunities to build our membership. I just feel so strongly that the APFM can provide our members with opportunities for learning, testing theories, working with other practitioners and continue the work to establish family mediation as a truly distinct profession.  I believe the efforts to improve and standardize credentialing are crucial towards this goal, and I hope to help with the effort to get that up-and-running.  I believe credentialing will give our practicing members a way to get some long-deserved recognition for their hard work and continued education.

5. Where do you see the field of Family Mediation going?

I believe that, over time, Family Mediation will strengthen as a profession.  The practice of mediation is still new and somewhat misunderstood by the general public.  I believe that is changing over time, and I am so thankful to be a part of the transition from an adversarial process to a more meaningful and peaceful process that meets or exceeds the expectations of everyone who participates.

6. What do you like to do when you are not mediating?

In my personal time, I enjoy golf and shooting sports (no hunting). I only wish I could be 30 again, so I could have started sooner in the world of family mediation.

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