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AFCC Library Review: ABA Family Law Standards of Practice, Representing Children in Custody Cases

 

Representing Children in Child Custody CasesIn August of 2003, the American Bar Association House of Delegates approved standards for practice applying to attorneys representing children in custody cases as written by the ABA family law section. Even if you might feel comfortable teaching this material, it is still useful to scan through from time to time and it might just jog your memory or lead to one of those “light-bulb” moments.

If you are a new Texas AFCC member, it is useful to spend some time on the AFCC website where all chapter members can use their username and password to gain access to a large resource library.

The full article containing these approved standards is available for Texas AFCC members in the Practice Guidelines and Standards area of the Resources page on the parent AFCC website.

Excerpt from the introduction: “Children deserve to have custody proceedings conducted in a manner least harmful to them and most likely to provide judges with the facts needed to decide the case. By adopting these Standards, the American Bar Association sets a standard for good practice and consistency in the appointment and performance of lawyers for children in custody cases.[i]

Here is an outline of the 29 pages of the content in the 2003 approved standards for lawyers representing children in custody cases (A real issue spotting bonanza):

  • Introduction Scope and Definitions
    • Scope
    • Definition
  • Duties of All Lawyers for Children
    • Accepting Appointment
    • Lawyer’s Roles
    • Independence
    • Initial Tasks
    • Meeting With the Child
    • Pretrial Responsibilities
    • Hearings
    • Appeals
    • Enforcement
    • End of Representation
  • Child’s Attorneys
    • Ethics and Confidentiality
    • Informing and Counseling the Client
    • Client Decisions
    • Appeals
    • Obligations after Initial Disposition
    • End of Representation
  • Best Interests Attorneys
    • Ethics
    • Confidentiality
    • Limited Appointments
    • Explaining Role to the Child
    • Investigations
    • Advocating the Child’s Best Interests
    • Appeals
  • Courts
    • Appointment of Lawyers
    • Training
    • Compensation
    • Caseloads
    • Physical Accommodations
    • Immunity
  • Appendix with Forms and Templates

Are you involved in the ABA? Their Family Law Section? Maybe these standards are ripe for updates?

With 15 years passing since the adoption of these ABA practice standards, some things might have changed in the law and in practice. That said, the revision of practice standards is something that requires a good deal of time and effort. Having been involved in ABA sections in the past, I recall the amount of collaborative work that goes into the creation of bodies of wisdom, such as these standards.

Getting involved in the ABA Family Law Section may be an attractive option for anyone who works in the family law industry, including mental health professionals. And while the ABA may not be as niche of an organization as AFCC, our members may have something to contribute to the overall betterment of family practice and the best interests of children nationwide.

By Nick Augustine, Lone Star Content Marketing

Texas AFCC Content Coordinator

 

 

[i] AFCC website, American Bar Association Section of Family Law Standards of Practice for Lawyers Representing Children in Custody Cases, Approved by the American Bar Association House of Delegates August 2003.

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Creating groups to share appropriate TV, series and movie reviews with other trusted parents

 

Generation Xers and Baby Boomers may remember their parents cupping their ears or parents using their hands to block their kids from seeing inappropriate content, often during evening television movies. When VCRs and recorded media allowed parents to hit the pause, then quick rewind button, the technological advantage gave parents more control over what their children saw on television.

Today, social network technology allows parents to exchange ideas among themselves as to what movies and shows are appropriate for children at various ages and maturity levels. Who has time to pre-screen movies, especially that which you plan to watch with your kids? What if someone else you trust was first to see a new movie and could tell you whether you would let your kid watch it or what parts of the movie to quickly skip over?

Starting a social network of trusted parent movie critics may be a fun way to share information and stay connected with others while doing your part to oversee the content your children may watch.

What may be appropriate for one may be off limits to another

Just like some parents are “helicopter” and others “free range” in their parenting, some parents allow some children to watch television programs, series and movies that would be forbidden by other parents. Your content choices for children can be based on your decisions as a parent as to what is appropriate for your child. Even though certain programs might be fine for some, there may be others who object to certain themes and ideas to which they do not wish their children to be exposed. For this reason, it is a better idea to communicate with other parents you know, like and trust, over the advice of people you don’t know personally.

Creating a group of trusted friends and parents who screen content

Even if your group is a few close friends and family member, you are off to a good start in building a team of trusted content collaborators. As you meet new people and parenting topics arise, you can invite someone to your screening group. Not only will your friends find appropriate things to watch, they are likely to find out about television programs, series and movies they may not have otherwise known.

Launching a Facebook group to share information with one another

Creating a group on Facebook is easier than you may know, easy as 1 -2 -3 when you use this link: How do I create a group? Before you start building your group page it is a good idea to write out the general rules, terms and conditions of group membership which can be included in the section that describes the group. You can decide to make the group open to the public or make it private for only you and your trusted allies in parenting. Consider making other people administrators for the group so they can approve posts and make posts and changes to the group page and its settings.

If you create a Facebook or similar socially networked group, you will likely receive many positive comments as well as questions about various programming. You and your friends can be your own movie critics. Just remember, the more people you invite to the group, the more opinions you might have to evaluate when selecting appropriate television, series and movies for your children.

By Nick Augustine, Lone Star Content Marketing

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Have you attended an AFCC webinar?

Keep up with your legal and mental health colleagues in family law as they share information and tips on topics and issues affecting families. Register online today and start watching AFCC webinars as soon as next week.

The following is a list of upcoming AFCC webinars listed on the main AFCC website. You can also view their archive AFCC webinars.

Barbara Jo Fidler, Ph.D., C.Psych., Acc.FM

July 19, 2017

1:00pm-2:00pm Eastern Time

More Information

 

Ann M. Ordway, JD, PhD

August 16, 2017

1:00pm-2:00pm Eastern Time

More Information

 

Mindy F. Mitnick, EdM, MA

September 19, 2017

1:00pm – 2:00pm Eastern Time

Registration Opens August 23, 2017

More Information

 

Deborah Wald, JD

October 11, 2017

1:00pm – 2:00pm Eastern Time

Registration Opens September 6, 2017

More Information

 

Robin Deutsch, PhD, ABPP

November 9, 2017

1:00pm – 2:00pm Eastern Time

Registration Opens October 4, 2017

More Information

 

Linda Fieldstone, MEd

December 12, 2017

1:00pm – 2:00pm Eastern Time

Registration Opens November 15, 2017

More Information

 

Philip Stahl, PhD, ABPP

January 23, 2018

1:00pm – 2:00pm Eastern Time

Registration Opens December 20, 2017

More Information

 

Todd Brower, JD, LLM

February 13, 2018

1:00pm – 2:00pm Eastern Time

Registration Opens January 17, 2018

More Information

 

Michael A. Saini, PhD

March 14, 2018

1:00pm – 2:00pm Eastern Time

Registration Opens Febuary 14, 2018

More Information

 

Marsha Kline Pruett, PhD, ABPP

April 10, 2018

1:00pm – 2:00pm Eastern Time

Registration Opens March 7, 2018

More Information

 

Loretta Frederick, JD

May 15, 2018

1:00pm-2:00pm Eastern Time

Registraiton Opens April 18, 2018

More Information

 

Harry Somers, EdD

June 20, 2018

1:00pm – 2:00pm Eastern Time

Registration Opens May 16, 2018

More Information

 

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Whatever Gets Us There

The first time I used a neutral mental health professional in a collaborative law divorce, my entire idea of what it meant to be a good lawyer changed.

You know the clients:  My client, the mother, was the destitute SAHM (stay-at-home-mom), angry that the father thought the dream could be so easily tossed away.  The father was the rigid engineer, incredulous that the mother didn’t see this coming.

You know the lawyers:  Still new to the process and well meaning, I defaulted to throwing down the court gauntlet when the going got tough.  Opposing counsel wore her collaborative law experience with shaming righteousness to any who did not follow the exact process rules.

Although all were hopeful and well-meaning, this was a scenario waiting to go wheels off.  But this time, we had a secret weapon – the communications facilitator.

When the preliminaries were over with and we started to delve into the hard work, my client mom burst into tears leading to a chain reaction in which the dad tightened up like a vise, and the two attorneys  ducked their heads in discomfort waiting for the other to declare the session was over.  Attorneys aren’t trained to think in terms of managing emotion to move forward.  Rather, emotion is the signal that we have an impasse which requires a “time out” so we can perform some functions from the comfort of our offices which then lead to some action in the comfort of our courtrooms.  It’s what most of us were trained to do in law school and for many it’s a simpler, easier way to get from point A to point B.

As I was about to lift my head up and throw down my proverbial gauntlet, I heard the facilitator rustling out of her chair. Both attorneys looked up in surprise to watch her calmly move to the box of Kleenex and gently place it in front of the mom.  The facilitator put her hand on the mother’s shoulder and said “I know you think with your heart and that makes it hard when you must discuss these difficult things. That’s OK.” (See Dad tightening up further as the facilitator continued) “ So if you need to take breaks to let your head catch up to your heart, we can do that. Do you need to take a break?” (Hand still on the mom’s shoulder). Mom grabs the proffered Kleenex, and says “no, I’m OK now”.  Dad’s head pops up in surprise, attorneys jaws drop in amazement and the facilitator calmly goes back to her seat at the head of the table poised to resume the session.

The weird thing (at least to the lawyers) was that Mom was OK.  Mom needed her feelings acknowledged and accepted.  The facilitator knew that moving the mom forward made the “special attention” given to the mom OK with Dad. The facilitator knew that taking control of the uncomfortable emotion in the room would be OK with the attorneys.   As a result, in less than 10 minutes time, we avoided bringing the session, and the entire collaborative process, to a screeching halt.

Prior to this, I didn’t have the tools in my toolbox to know how to pull it back together after an emotional “incident” and might have run back to the comfort of pleadings and courtrooms.  After this, I might not have stayed the collaborative course to the successful conclusion had I not seen this magic for myself –  because the later sessions were often just as emotional, very bumpy, sometimes grueling,  and fraught with the delays of inexperience and denial. But over the next 3 months we got these parents through it culminating in an agreement that worked for their family until their children were grown.

Thereafter, I never thought about any of my cases the same way.  I no longer believed I should or could be all things to all clients in all cases. They were best served if I honed into the specific professional who was needed for their individual issues.  Why should I put together a financial spreadsheet or inventory when a financial professional can do it faster, cheaper and more competently? Is it best practice to “go with my gut” when advising on a parenting plan for someone else’s child?  My clients were more grateful, I was paid more consistently, and the practice of law was far less tedious and treacherous when I relied on a customized, interdisciplinary team of professionals.

As members of AFCC, you already have this mindset.  When did it “change” for you? Think about those other professionals that make your practice, and your life, that much…well….MORE.  Remember that feeling of delight when you find others of like mind doing good works…no…GREAT works? Share your “Ah ha” moment.

Tell us your story.

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Balanced parenting and productivity over weekends

Balanced parenting and productivity over weekends

Memorial Day weekend is finally here and many of us have three days off to kick off the beginning of summer here in Texas. Parents with children in school are adjusting for the summer season and making plans. While relaxing is on the agenda of some this Memorial Day, others have extensive “to do” lists. When you have an extra day to play with, the possibilities may seem endless. The extra day can be a project day and when you start making lists, the expectations grow. With excitement also comes anxiety for busy and productive people who feel they come up short at the end of the weekend. Stressing over not getting enough done is hardly the best way to approach Monday and the coming week. As parents, we may all consider taking a few steps towards better life management practices so weekends are productive and fulfilling.

Why do we put so much emphasis on productive weekends?

Some say the times and technology changed the way we approach the weekends and our balance of recreation and productive work. In the past, more of us left work at the office and were not accessible during weekends by mobile devices, laptops and so forth. Work has creeped into our “non-work” time; do we still have an expectation of weekend privacy?

Do you talk to your friends and ask, “What all did you do this weekend?” The answer to that question is tribute and badge of honor for some of the busiest and most productive weekender parents. If your children play sports, have weekend social group activities, and are busy with friends, it can be like a sport to weave in time for household chores, errands and adult social activities.

The dread of not rising to superstar status; failing to accomplish everything on your list.

On Friday evenings, Mondays seem forever far away. Saturday morning is when reality hits many of us, we only have two full days to get everything done and live it up. Sleeping in too late on a Saturday might be the pride of a few, but to others, a long night’s slumber takes away from time to attack the “to do” list.

Sundays are particularly difficult for some people who have the blues. Crowds at the grocery store, cranky people at shopping malls and kids running around can get the best of people facing the reality that Monday morning is right around the corner. Did they get enough done this weekend? Are they happy? Did they get to relax?

What about limiting productive work to one day of the weekend?

Simple “work / reward” logic tells us we might have more balance by limiting the expectations of productive work during the weekend. Setting out to be a Saturday warrior at a breakneck pace, can lead to a satisfying list of weekend accomplishments.

Reserving Sundays to spend time with family and friends, or alone reading a book, can be the important down time needed to effective balance work and life. In the past, Sunday blue laws and church commitments limited the expectation of productivity on Sundays. In current days, many more stores and businesses are open on Sundays. Sunday used to be a sacred time, our only free day.

Have a Happy Memorial Day weekend and welcome to summer!

Enjoy the three-day weekend and nice weather this weekend. We hope everyone has great plans this summer and will have many great stories to tell about time spent with family and friends. Parents will be busy and making those lists. Hopefully, some of the “to dos” can wait for next weekend.

# # #

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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TX AFCC Conference 2016 Brought Like Minded Professionals Together

If you missed the November 2016 TX AFCC Conference, you missed a great one!  Collaborating with TADRO (Texas Association of Domestic Relations Offices) made for a very robust line-up of presentations and we had a full house for the conference.  We opened with renowned scholar and researcher, Dr. Leslie Drozd, who not only gave us some great tools to use when assessing and dealing with  alienation and estrangement, but she also loaded us up with resources and handouts which can be accessed under our website Resources section under Literature.

Our thanks to our new TX AFCC President, attorney Leslie Barrows and her husband Jeff Sanford, founder of JurisFabrilis, who hosted the mixer on Wednesday evening.  The event was held at the Tarrant County Bar Association, with abundant food and wonderful wine tastings.  The highlight was to mingle with like-minded professionals who are meeting the daily challenges of encouraging paradigm shifts in the traditional way of handling family law matters.

Glowing reviews proved that the line-up of speakers for the next two days was well received. Highlights include:

  • Attorney Ken Shetter, President of One Safe Place Family Justice Center, started us out by giving us  great hope for bringing women and children out of poverty and abusive relationships, by providing the services they need in one place. This new concept has decreased intimate relationship homicides in a huge way.
  • A panel of “experts” from the Tarrant County DRO gave a live demonstration showed us technology like Face Time, Skype and more to increase frequent communication between the NCP and his/her children.
  • Attorney and Executive Director of Dispute Resolution Services of Tarrant County, Jaque Flynt, showed the value of having an understanding of human nature, psychology and neuroscience in ensuring a successful negotiation or mediation.
  • Tommy Jordan brought the house down with testimonials from Dads who didn’t know they had a child, and stepped up to the plate when CPS contacted them after removal.  These young men touched everyone’s hearts and gave a new perspective on the importance of a child having both parents in their lives.
  • The Honorable Debra Lehrmann, Supreme Court Justice of the State of Texas, gave us an inside look at how the highest court in the state works and thanked everyone who is working outside the box for the benefit of children.
  • Dr. Brooks McKenzie brought us new information on what an attachment assessment is and how an understanding of this concept can assist us in working with families in a custody dispute with young children.  From a research standpoint, this information is still in its infancy (no pun intended) so having Dr. McKenzie explain it in understandable terms was a step forward in giving us insight into what is needed in cases with very young children.

The conference wrapped up with a lively and entertaining presentation from UTA Professor Bruce Bower who gave us a mini neuroscience lesson and offered tools to help a volatile parent or child.  Joe Stallard of Sewell Automotive Compay brought the attendees to their feet when he wrapped up the conference with an inspiring message on the power of treating everyone, especially those in crisis, with respect and dignity.

The most important take-away from an AFCC conference of any kind is networking with other passionate professionals who are truly committed to the well-being of families. A culture of cooperation grows exponentially when we can see that we are in this together.

Don’t Ann Marie Termini on April 7, 2017 in Fort Worth.  Your TX AFCC board looks forward to seeing all of you there!

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Considering online and mobile technology in therapy

Communication technology offers new options in all aspects of relationships. Whether meeting someone new or in relationship counseling and divorce, there are social networks and mobile applications satisfying many of our interpersonal needs. What you may not find today may be available tomorrow. The only limits are the imaginations of interpersonal problem solvers. While there may be benefits to online therapy, we must wonder how much we need human interaction and intervention. A recent advertisement appearing on a popular website offered online marriage counseling and at first glance it looks like a good idea.

When you search the Internet for “online marriage counseling” the search results include a variety of online couples counseling websites. Many of the websites are managed by licensed mental health professionals. They often refer to coaching and the ease of working with patients all over, without geographic limitations.

Identifying features and benefits of online counseling

One of the online counseling resources, Talkspace, identifies a benefit of online counseling in the opportunity for a patient to communicate online with the therapist, multiple times a day or whenever it is convenient. This makes it easier for a person needing to talk to the therapist without needing to wait until a scheduled appointment. While every situation may be unique, one must wonder how often the ease of access between patient and therapist contributes to a therapist being inundated. Setting boundaries and controlling expectations may be a challenge in online therapy.

It is also suggested that online and digital therapy options allow a patient to control the medium. People may want to text, talk over the phone, send instant messages or use a video chat option. There are many convenience options.

Anonymity is another feature promoted by some online counseling providers. People with social anxiety may appreciate the opportunity to talk to a therapist about their marriage while keeping their identity hidden. Anonymity might allow some people to be more open and tell the therapist more than they would in a face to face setting.

What limitations of online communications make traditional counseling preferable?

Think of social networks and online chatting. On sites like Facebook some people can appear differently to others as they would in an in-person conversation.

Are you likely to be more honest with a person sitting next to you in a room or someone on your computer? How does the immediate physical presence of a mental health professional affect the experience of marriage counseling and coaching? Maybe it depends on the individual and for some people, online counseling may work great, while others need the in-person experience.

Considering online counseling options, one could be sidetracked by questioning the interpersonal communication psychology. A best bet may be a mixed approach. If an individual or couple seeking marriage counseling meets with and establishes trust with a local counselor first, then using online communication technology, some follow up or maintenance communication may be helpful to reinforcing ideas and thoughts shared in a counseling session. This way people receive all the benefits of online communication technology without the burden of not being able to make the necessary interpersonal connection with the trusted mental health professional.

Thoughts for counselors considering offering online services

What ethics rules apply to online patient services? Does your arrangement with payment providers allow remote access delivery of services? Does the model for online services satisfy the requirements of local, state and federal laws such as HIPPA?

Once practice questions are satisfied, the development of an online mental health service component may be as easy as letting your patients know of the option and seeing how it works. Communicating openly with patients and exchanging feedback helps all involved determine how the service model is working.

At the end of the day everyone is unique and will respond differently to various aspects of counseling, coaching and mental health services. Technology developers are busy and innovative. There are new communication platforms introduced frequently and there is a seemingly endless drive to continue improving on technology and the user experience.

# # #

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.

# # #

Image Source: http://bit.ly/2fs9Uvn

 

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2016 Annual Texas AFCC Statewide Conference Schedule

CONFERENCE SCHEDULE:

WEDNESDAY, November 2nd
11:30 a.m. Registration open
12:30-12:45 p.m. Associate Judges Steve Owen and Cherami Jenkins, IV-D Court Judges—Welcoming Remarks
12:45-1:00 p.m. TADRO roll call and County DRO updates
1:00-1:10 p.m. Raffle drawing for hotel room, breakfast vouchers and parking passes
1:10p.m.-5:00 p.m. Dr. Leslie Drozd, Ph.D.—Keynote Presentation
“Understanding Gatekeeping, Alienation & Estrangement Issues in Devising Parenting Plans”
5:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m. Networking Social

drozdDr. Leslie Drozd is a well-known expert on family violence, abuse and alienation, especially in high conflict divorce cases. She has conducted custody evaluations for more than 25 years and has presented nationally and internationally on issues that affect children in the family court system. She helped create the AFCC Model Standards for Conducting Child Custody Evaluations as well as the supplement for those Standards on domestic violence. She is an editor or author a myriad professional articles and books including Parenting Plan Evaluations: Applied Research for Family Court (2012 & 2016) and Parenting Plan & Child Custody Evaluations: Using Decision Trees to Increase Evaluator Competence & Avoid Preventable Errors. When not presenting, Dr. Drozd serves as an expert witness and consultant in high conflict cases and works as a parent coordinator and co-parenting & reintegration/reunification therapist.
THURSDAY, November 3rd

MORNING: TRACK ONE – Family and Children Track

8:30-9:15 a.m. Ken Shetter, JD; Michelle Morgan, VP and Director- One Safe Place Family Justice Center
“The Impact on Children who Witness Family Violence”
Ken and Michelle will present case studies and research on the damage caused when children are exposed, directly and indirectly to domestic violence in the home, and the unique ethical responsibilities for the family law professionals who represent or work with cases in which domestic violence is an issue

9:15-10:00 a.m. Christie Glenn, Executive Director; Denise Hallmark, Visitation Coordinator; Tammy Bunch, Collection/Enforcement Manager; Heather Helton and Jimmy Cantu, Probation Counselors – DRO Tarrant County
“Virtual Visitation – Using New Resources to Enhance Access for Children”
This panel will review the growing need for innovation in parenting in an increasingly mobile society. They will explore what technology is currently available to enhance long distance, remote and supervised visitation.

10:00-10:15 a.m. Break

10:15-11:00 a.m. Heather King, JD, Chair of Family Law Section, State Bar of Texas
“What’s New – Hot out of the Legislature”
Heather will review recent statutory changes and case law in family law.

11:00-11:50 a.m. Jaque Flynt, JD, Executive Director, Dispute Resolution Services of Tarrant County
“Tips and Techniques for a Successful Mediation”
Family law has its own unique set of dynamics. Jaque will present practical ideas to improve negotiations, mediation and settlement conferences with parents in the family law system.

MORNING: TRACK TWO – Child Support Track
8:30-9:15 a.m. Associate Judges Steve Owen and Cherami Jenkins IV-D Court Judges
“Understanding Social Security and Veterans Benefits in Child Support Cases”
The judges will present the special considerations for child support when dealing with a disabled parent or veteran receiving benefits.

9:15-10:00 a.m. Courtney Young, Justice Involved Veterans (JIV)
“Treatment and Community Reintegration of Returning Vets”
With an increasing number of veterans returning from combat deployments to civilian life, Courtney will discuss the needs of this population and what resources are available to assist them in getting back to parenting their children.

10:00-10:15 a.m. Break

10:15-11:50 a.m. Tommy Jordon, Executive Director, New Day Services
“FOCUS – Fathers Offering Children Unconditional Support -Dads Share Their Stories”
The FOCUS class for Fathers originated by request of the Tarrant County Child Support Courts as an effort to challenge, inspire, and equip non-compliant, non-custodial fathers to be responsible and engaged parents. Tommy will discuss the program’s outcomes, including increased child support payments and better co-parenting relationships and Texas is leading the way nationally in
creating policy and laws to address those findings.

MORNING: TRACK THREE – Shared Parenting Grantee Meeting
9:00-11:45 a.m. Deborah Arellano, Shared Parenting Coordinator, Family Initiatives

***********************************************************************************************************
12:00-12:20 p.m. TADRO Membership Meeting/ AFCC Membership Meeting
12:20p.m.-1:20p.m.—Lunch Provided
Honorable Debra Lehrmann, Supreme Court Justice of the State of Texas
“Updates, Inquiries and Observations”
***********************************************************************************************************

AFTERNOON: TRACK ONE – Family and Children Track
1:30-2:15 p.m. Lori Coplen, LCSW, DFPS
“Therapeutic Supervised Visitation”
In those cases in which extreme alienation or abuse has impaired the parent/child relationship, observation and minimal oversight is not enough. Lori will discuss how direct involvement of a mental health professional trained to intervene, coach and redirect can contribute to restoring the damaged relationship.

2:15-3:00 p.m.: Carol Mapp, LCSW, Founder of Integrated Healthworks
“Parent Facilitation – When, How, and Why to Use a Parent Facilitator”
Carol will discuss how parent facilitation can move high conflict parents to positive co-parenting. She will discuss the qualifications, the processes and share case studies.

3:00-3:15 p.m. Break

3:15-5:00 p.m. Dr. Brooks McKenzie, Ph.D., President and Founder of LBH Research & Consulting, LLC
“Using Attachment Based Assessments in Child Custody Cases”
Understanding whether a parent or a child has good attachments, or not, gives new insight into devising appropriate care and access plans, especially for small children. Dr. McKenize will educate us on exactly what attachment based assessments are, how the assessments are done and how that information is relevant in devising parenting plans.

AFTERNOON: TRACK TWO – Child Support Track
1:30-2:15 p.m. Kelicia Lyons, Texas Office of the Attorney General
“Finding the Custodial Parent and other Locate Issues”
Kelicia will discuss the availability and limits of location services for parents whose address is unknown and other resources.

2:15-3:00 p.m.: Courtney/Summer – Dept. of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services – DARS
“Finding Work for Those with a Physical or Cognitive Disability”
For so many parents, it is not that they are unwilling to support their children, but they are not able. Courtney and Summer will review the programs available to assess what is holding a parent back from securing stable employment and resources available to overcome those obstacles.

3:00-3:15 p.m. Break

3:15-4:00 p.m. OAG Roundtable
“Solving Problems, Sharing Successes, Exchanging Ideas”
This is an open panel discussion to review what works with the OAG, what needs improving and ideas for innovation and success.

4:00-5:00 p.m. Donna Larson, Director, Community Supervision; Clint Dupew, Director, Legal Enforcement; Denise Martin, Director Child Support Off ice—Tarrant County
“Best Practices in Community Supervision, Legal Enforcement and Child Support”
The three Tarrant County DRO Directors will discuss their best practices and encourage audience participation.

AFTERNOON: TRACK THREE – Shared Parenting Grantee Meeting
1:30—4:00p.m. Deborah Arellano, Shared Parenting Coordinator, Family Initiatives

FRIDAY, November 4th
8:30-10:45 a.m. Bruce Bower , LMSW, Assistant Professor University of Texas at Arlington School of Social Work “Neuroscience, Aggression and Intervention in the Family”
Bruce Bower will discuss the various factors leading to aggression and violence in family relationships. He will further review op-tions for coping with and intervening when a parent or child is volatile.

10:45-11:00 a.m. Break

11:00-11:45 a.m. Joe Stallard , VP of Human Resources, Sewell Automotive Companies
“Giving Extraordinary Customer Service, No Matter What You Do”
Whether a lawyer, mental health provider or a judge working in the family law system, it requires the ability to work with people who may not be in the best place or time in their lives. Remembering and understanding that we need to treat each other and the families in the system with civility and respect is often lost in the daily grind. Joe will discuss the importance of treating each other, the clients and ourselves well to enhance best outcomes for families in crisis.

11:45 a.m. Adjourn

REGISTRATION FEE: includes Wednesday evening social and Thursday luncheon (does NOT include hotel cost or meals except where indicated): Register online at www.texasafcc.org 
Registration Questions: barbara.schnack@dro.nctx.net

Texas AFCC members $150.00
Non- Texas AFCC members $175.00
Student Rate $ 90.00

Sheraton Fort Worth Hotel and Spa, 1701 Commerce St., Fort Worth TX 76102
$119 (plus applicable taxes) per night; single room (king beds) and double occupancy (queen beds) are the same rate; Parking is an additional fee.

To register for a room:
1-888-627-8556 and note you are with AFCC 2016 Annual Conference
Or go to: https://www.starwoodmeeting.com/events/start.action?id=1603210691&key=21E6E2EC

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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.