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Managing Holiday Time Conflict – An AFCC Webinar

Registration is now open for a new AFCC webinar:

Managing Holiday Time Conflict
Robin Deutsch, PhD, ABPP
November 9, 2017
1:00pm-2:00pm Eastern Time
Register now

Holidays are often stressful times for separated and divorced parents and their children.  That of course means it is also a stressful time for the professionals who work with these families.Conflicts often revolve around time, traditions, and travel. Underlying these conflicts is the sense of loss parents often feel when the holidays approach. This webinar will offer tips for managing conflict that professionals can provide to families during these stressful times.

Members register for only $15, non-members register for $50. Attendees may purchase a certificate of attendance, $15 for members, $20 for non-members. No refunds or credits will be issued for webinar cancellations. Webinars will be archived as a member benefit, for personal use only.

Space is limited, and previous webinars have sold out, so register todayPast AFCC webinar recordings can be found in the Member Center of the AFCC website.

AFCC is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. AFCC maintains responsibility for this program and its content. This webinar is approved for one hour of continuing education for psychologists. No continuing education applications for other professions will be submitted. You may use your certificate of attendance as proof of participation to apply for individual continuing education credit with your professional accrediting institution. 


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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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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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2016 Annual Texas AFCC Statewide 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 
Registration Questions:

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: