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Rising demand for ways to resolve disputes in high conflict families

The rising demand for better ways to resolve disputes in high conflict families

Divorce and family law matters are significant factors in the lives of parents, children and families. The impact of the significant changes that can occur when one of us is involved in a divorce or family law case is compelling. Whether of means or struggling to make ends meet, we are all affected when families change. The experience of uniting or dividing families can be a serious factor in the development and future relationships of children involved in divorce and family law cases. Not only are the children affected, their parents may again find love and marriage, or they may become bitter and jaded. Setting aside the emotional toll, the financial consequences of dividing a family can impact the future, and when the conflict is never resolved the attorney’s bills keep coming.

To better support families seeking dispute resolution alternatives, professionals in the many disciplines that work with family courts found a way to collectively meet and share information about methods and policies that promote families addressing conflict and finding resolution on their own instead of being dictated resolution by the courts.

Introducing the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC)

Founded in 1963, the AFCC is an association of professionals dedicated to the resolution of family conflict without tearing people limb from limb and bankrupting them in the process. Dedicated to a better way of serving families, the lawyers, financial and mental health professionals work together in the pursuit of alternative dispute resolution, in and out of courtrooms.

AFCC chapters in several states, including the Texas, are well-organized hubs of information and resources for members learning new methods and practices in alternative dispute resolution. The professionals who work in industries involving family law can learn from the collaboration among practitioners who share information as thought leaders working in furtherance of the mission of the AFCC.

The AFCC mission: “AFCC is an interdisciplinary, international association of professionals dedicated to improving the lives of children and families through the resolution of family conflict. AFCC promotes a collaborative approach to serving the needs of children among those who work in and with family law systems, encouraging education, research and innovation and identifying best practices.[i]

Learn more about the AFCC and the Texas Chapter by exploring the Texas Chapter AFCC website and the library of blog articles and resources organized for the benefit of not only the professionals and members of the Texas Chapter, but also the men and women who want a better alternative to traditional divorce and family litigation.

About us: The Texas Chapter of AFCC is an interdisciplinary association of family law judges, attorneys, mediators, evaluators, court administrators, financial planners, and mental health professionals, working in collaboration to further ideas and issues to help resolve family conflict and protect the interests of families and children.

When needing to change the aspects and effects of the adversarial family litigation system by challenging convention and providing opportunities for interdisciplinary communications and training, Texan professionals who work in family law turn to the Texas Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliatory Courts for the information and resources necessary to change the lives of their clients and colleagues for better. Men, women and children who embrace alternative dispute resolution and want to take their divorce and family law matters in a different direction are encouraged to seek out Texas Chapter AFCC professionals to learn more.

To make contact with a Texas Chapter AFCC professional, please contact communications coordinator, Nick Augustine at (940) 498-2863 or by using the Contact Us page on the Texas Chapter AFCC website. Do not forget to keep up with news and events by engaging with the Texas Chapter social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter.

[i] The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, Mission, Vision and Values.

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History of AFCC, adapting to changing cultures and families

The history of the AFCC, growing and adapting to changing cultures and families

In 1963 the first publication to feature an exchange of ideas among the conciliation courts in California. Addressing the importance of the idea was expressed by Judge Roger Alton Pfaff, presiding judge of the Superior Court of Los Angeles remarked, “California has become a model for conciliation services as a part of the judicial function for other states to emulate and each year we find jurisdictions creating such services. It may well be that in the not too distant future this little publication may have a wider dissemination with similar courts in similar states.”

Today, in many states including Texas, conciliation courts and the professionals who practice in connection with them are in touch with one another as Judge Pfaff envisioned.

September 7, 1963 was the day conciliation counselors and judges from six California counties assembled at the first AFCC conference. The focus of many working in family courts was the resolution of marital disputes, promoting reconciliation, often times by using trial separation agreements. News of the AFCC and the exchange of ideas spread to other states and AFCC quickly grew to become an international association of a vast group of diverse professionals whose work affects the resolution of family conflict.

The AFCC has been around for several shifts in focus as times have changed

While the focus was reconciliation among men and women when the AFCC was formed in the 1960s, there was a shift in culture and courts in the 1970s when divorce with dignity grew in popularity. Taking the negative stigma out of divorce and out of the language of the family law code reflected a community who wanted to help people facing divorce, to do so with more supportive tools and education to prepare for a significant life change. AFCC members were active in the 1970s, implementing pilot programs to mediate custody and visitation disputes, as well as divorce education workshops.

Mediation grew and spread from coast to coast in the 1980s as AFCC members continued speaking and writing about the positive effects of mediation and the rates of success when families are not returning to court with frequent modification or enforcement issues. Resolving complex differences through mediation made sense to many people who appreciate that individuals experiencing family conflict might often appreciate a process for identifying differences and being able to explore the best options families are willing to accept. The process helps make sense of out of conflict and how to approach it.

AFCC members provide educational tools and resources to increase awareness of family issues

In the 1980s more parents wanted to improve their parenting and family relationship skills through self-help books collected and sold through the AFCC, such as “Parents Are Forever” and “Guide for Stepparents.” Films are also popular and the award-winning family violence picture, “A Family Affair,” was narrated by actor Edward Asner, and exposed the compelling problem of family violence in a way that many had not seen before.

Empowered by joining forces, there were new groups of fathers and divorcing parents who shared their experiences and desires to have an equal voice. The AFCC subjects of discussion involved the needs many of these groups expressed. Financial issues involving child support and concerns about joint parenting time were addressed in collaborative settings such as conferences and task forces where ideas for solutions were presented with the hope of future policy implementation.

Complex family issues took center stage in the 1990s as professionals recognized the challenges to high-conflict families. An example is the study of the impact of mediation on custody disputes involving allegations of domestic violence. As the culture of parents and families involved more people admitting domestic violence and the forms in which it appears, the focus on its prevalence was prioritized among AFCC members in state chapters nationwide.

The 2000s and counting are years of new challenges with the increase of technology and its impact on the lives of parents and family members. From tracking people in their movements and with whom they text or email, new problems in relationships are brought to light along with increased suspicions of others and trust issues. AFCC challenges in meeting the needs of a technology-savvy divorcing generation are met with technology. Through email, websites, social media and mobile devices, AFCC members and groups can stay in touch and share new information about the latest conflict sources and potential roadmaps to resolution.

In the future there is one thing AFCC members anticipate: There will be new events and occurrences in our lives and cultures involving conflict, and the AFCC will be there to ask questions and collaborate in roads to resolutions.

About us: The Texas Chapter of AFCC is an interdisciplinary association of family law judges, attorneys, mediators, evaluators, court administrators, financial planners, and mental health professionals, working in collaboration to further ideas and issues to help resolve family conflict and protect the interests of families and children.

When needing to change the aspects and effects of the adversarial family litigation system by challenging convention and providing opportunities for interdisciplinary communications and training, Texan professionals who work in family law turn to the Texas Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliatory Courts for the information and resources necessary to change the lives of their clients and colleagues for better. Men, women and children who embrace alternative dispute resolution and want to take their divorce and family law matters in a different direction are encouraged to seek out Texas Chapter AFCC professionals to learn more.

To make contact with a Texas Chapter AFCC professional, please contact communications coordinator, Nick Augustine at (940) 498-2863 or by using the Contact Us page on the Texas Chapter AFCC website. Do not forget to keep up with news and events by engaging with the Texas Chapter social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter.

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AFCC and how family law professionals support its mission

About the AFCC and how family law industry professionals support its mission

In response to the family law consumer demand for new and better alternatives to traditional divorce and family litigation, The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) has grown to rise as a thought leading organization focused on positives change. The AFCC is an international organization comprised of members from many professional disciplines, including law, finance and mental health. Active AFCC members are change agents, they are the leading practitioners, researchers and policymakers in divorce and family law. Members of individual state chapters, such as the Texas Chapter of the AFCC, are the association and one another’s valuable resources in sharing information, experiences and collectively searching for new ways to improve the quality of care and service for the men, women and families experiencing the family law system, those who want options in addition to traditional litigation.

How AFCC members work collaboratively with one another to create new solutions

AFCC members are similar to members of a think tank, and when one of the member practitioners has a unique challenge, they can and do reach out to other members with their own unique experiences, and through the exchange of diverse information, great things happen. For example, a family law attorney may have a client with a high profile career and a complex life and living situation. Is it right that the client receives less parenting time because their schedule is difficult or unpredictable? How can the attorney advocate for equal parenting time when the client’s career presents unique challenges? By talking to other members of the AFCC network, there may be another family law industry professional, and not necessarily an attorney, who may have experienced a very similar, yet unique set of circumstances. Members can offer their experiences and suggest what others have done and what results were experienced.

The AFCC story is one of historic innovation and positive change

Ingenuity among bright professionals is a constant and driving force among AFCC members, for nearly half a century. When family industry professionals from different disciplines suggest there are better ways to accomplish goals, some people tell them know and others, like AFCC members say, “tell me more about your ideas.” Family law is dynamic and as the world around us changes, so changes the systems involved in family law. Methods of dispute resolution and law practice do not change on their own without smart and dedicated people pushing for reform and improvement.

AFCC members worked diligently and with much debate and discussion to develop Practice Guidelines and Standards for divorce and family mediation, parenting coordination, child custody evaluation, and other elements of family cases such as focused assessments and court-appointed therapists. Positive changes in the practice of family law are introduced in courts and legal communities from coast to coast and overseas.

Task forces and special projects are commenced, reported and revisited as AFCC members face challenges and know there are more solutions in a such a diverse population of professionals who continue to search for new and better solutions to the challenges facing families in transition.

The Family Court Review journal and collaborative leadership are improving practice and policy

The AFCC quarterly journal is the Family Court Review (FCR), the leading interdisciplinary family law journal. Popular FCR topics include domestic violence, child development and attachment, parental alienation, unified family courts and child welfare mediation.

Another feature of AFCC is the commitment to reform and training in family law practice and policies. The AFCC Center for Excellence in Family Court Practice addresses case management, domestic violence, family law education in collaboration with leaders of nationwide supporting partners addressing similar family court practice issues.

When professionals from the variety of disciplines that interact with family law practice share information and ideas, new and better results can change the way many of us perceive family court practice. These problem solving initiatives can improve the lives of people in complex and high conflict families.

About us: The Texas Chapter of AFCC is an interdisciplinary association of family law judges, attorneys, mediators, evaluators, court administrators, financial planners, and mental health professionals, working in collaboration to further ideas and issues to help resolve family conflict and protect the interests of families and children.

When needing to change the aspects and effects of the adversarial family litigation system by challenging convention and providing opportunities for interdisciplinary communications and training, Texan professionals who work in family law turn to the Texas Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliatory Courts for the information and resources necessary to change the lives of their clients and colleagues for better. Men, women and children who embrace alternative dispute resolution and want to take their divorce and family law matters in a different direction are encouraged to seek out Texas Chapter AFCC professionals to learn more.

To make contact with a Texas Chapter AFCC professional, please contact communications coordinator, Nick Augustine at (940) 498-2863 or by using the Contact Us page on the Texas Chapter AFCC website. Do not forget to keep up with news and events by engaging with the Texas Chapter social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter.