Washington Chapter


Washington AFCC is an extension of the international organization of AFCC, an association dedicated to the constructive resolution of family disputes.

To visit the International AFCC's web site www.afccnet.org


The Washington AFCC is a fully Chartered Chapter in the national organization. We received that distinction in 2012.  

WA AFCC members come together at annual meetings and conferences in our state and join in the international conferences and training programs to create a unique opportunity to belong to a worldwide network of professionals and to participate in an international exchange of information and expertise. AFCC members are committed to developing and refining innovative techniques to assist families in resolving their disputes, including:

  • Custody and Divorce Mediation
  • Parent Education
  • Custody Evaluation
  • Litigation
  • Parent Coordination
  • Child Protection and Dependency Mediation
  • Judicial Settlement Conferences
  • Special Masters and Parenting Coordinators
  • Mental Health Counseling & Forensics
  • Collaborative Divorce
  • Supervised Visitation

WA AFCC Mission Statement (From ByLaws)

The Chapter shall carry out the mission of AFCC at the local level. The Chapter’s mission shall be consistent with that of AFCC and as expressed in these Bylaws.

The mission of  WA AFCC is as follows: AFCC is an interdisciplinary, international association of professionals dedicated to improving the lives of children and families through the resolution of family conflict.  WA AFCC is part of that larger organization and 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 evidence-based practices. Its membership includes judges, lawyers, mediators, evaluators, mental health professionals, academics, researchers, court administrators, and public policy makers.  


WA AFCC is a 501 (3c) organization that is registered in the State of Washington as a charitable educational community organization. Please consider donating here using the PayPal link in order to assist us in our efforts to help children and families in times of crisis. Your donation assists us in serving to train those who work with families in the court system. We thank you for your kind consideration. 


For More Information about the Washington Chapter, feel free to contact our current President, Dennis Cronin, J.D.

Contact information may be found on the Leadership Tab or Contact Us Tab



Eighth Annual WA AFCC Conference

Families Finding 

Peace and Justice 


at the Washington Athletic Club which will be held on 

Saturday, March 23, 2019

The Conference will provide 6 hours of training as usual, but the format will include one hour plenary sessions with each speaker in the morning and then extended master training workshops with either of the presenters. Those attending will have the benefit of the vast clinical and forensic experience of two of the foremost experts on parenting evaluations, alienation and visitation resistance, and other thorny issues in meeting the best interests of children in family law matters.

Benjamin Garber, Ph.D.


Robert Simon, Ph.D.

Dr. Simon is a National Leader in Forensic Psychology Consulting, with over 30 years of experience in the legal domain of family law and domestic relations. He is licensed in California and Hawaii. He is an author, educator, and frequent speaker at family law events. Whether he's functioning as a Trial Consultant or Forensic Psychology expert witness in a family law matter, Dr. Simon applies empowering, pragmatic, empirically driven and ethically integrated solutions.  He is published by the American Bar Association - Family Law Section and other leading academic journals, magazines, and associations that strive to evolve this work to a place where excellence is a minimal expectation and families in transition are honored and treated with respect and humanity.

Dr. Ben Garber is a New Hampshire licensed psychologist, parenting coordinator, expert consultant to family law matters across North America, speaker and author. Dr. Garber is a former Guardian ad litem. He holds advanced degrees in psycholinguistics, developmental and clinical child psychology from the University of Michigan and from Pennsylvania State University. He completed an internship in clinical child and family psychology at the Institute of Living in Hartford, Connecticut. He is co-founder of the Parenting Coordination Association of New Hampshire, winner of the March of Dimes "Distinction in Media Excellence" award, and an acclaimed educator and author in numerous areas of child and family development and family law.  

In addition, we will open the conference with a one hour focus on recent family case law with a review by two noted authorities in the field, Catherine Wright Smith and Valerie Villacin.

Schedule for 8th Annual WA AFCC Conference

Saturday, March 23, 2019                                      Washington Athletic Club, Seattle WA                                       

8:00 to 8:30               Registration and Welcoming Comments

8:30 to 9:30               Plenary Session I – Catherine Wright Smith, J.D. & Valerie Villacin, J.D.    What Attorneys and Evaluators Need to Know from Recent Case Law in Washington Family Courts  (1.0 hr)

9:30 to 9:45               Break

9:45 to 10:45             Plenary Session II –  Benjamin Garber, Ph.D.

For the love of Fluffy: Transitional objects in high conflict divorce (1.0 hr)

Abstract:   Adult conflict, separation and divorce can compromise a child’s emotional security with long term developmental sequelae. Forced to migrate between homes, triangulated into the conflict, and sometimes pressured to take sides, anxiety builds, identity is reshaped, and the quality of these children’s futures is at risk. As family law professionals, we work hard to assure that children’s access to “emotional fuel” continues uninterrupted by implementing child-centered therapies and crafting developmentally-attuned parenting plans.  This presentation focuses on the power of the transitional object -those portable, idiosyncratic blankets and stuffed animals and trinkets that communicate a caregiver’s love while apart- both to help children manage separation and to move toward healthy autonomy. Building on a dramatic Canadian divorce case (Chomos v Hamilton, 2016 ONSC 5208), the concept of the transitional object is defined, its role in the course of healthy development is explored and applied to the needs of children caught up in high conflict divorce. Transitional objects are discussed as portable sources of emotional fuel, a metaphor that invites a new and very practical perspective on understanding and serving the best interests of these children.

Learning Objectives:

(a)    Participants will better understand the role of transitional objects in healthy child development and their special role when development is impacted by family conflict and transition.

(b)    Participant-therapists will be better able to recognize and respond to children’s needs for transitional objects to assist with the anxieties associated with frequent loss and transition between conflicted homes.

(c)    Participant-evaluators will become more acutely aware of and responsive to the role of transitional objects and how these idiosyncratic anxiolytics provide a window into the child’s needs and experience of family.

 11:00 to 12:00           Plenary Session II –  Robert Simon, Ph.D.

What Do We Really Know About What We Do?  Being Mindful of Our Footprint on the Family. (1.00 hr)


When families separate and divorce, the overwhelming majority of families with children are able to reach agreements and understandings about parenting plans and child sharing/child custody on their own or with some assistance from attorneys and clinical mental health professionals.  However, the families that litigate and have dispute over these issues - the very families that we interact with and serve, place the well being of the family and of the children in the hands of professionals such as judicial officers, attorneys and mental health professionals.  They do so based on the assumption that professionals are wise, professionals are experienced and that professionals truly know what they are doing.  They do so assuming that the recommendations, guidance and orders we make have behind them some degree of known efficacy and positive impact.  But do they?  What do we really know about the efficacy of the various interventions we recommend and order?  What happens to families when the natural autonomy and independence of the family system is impacted by litigation? Especially in those cases which are higher in conflict and in which repeated rounds of litigation ensue, what do we know about our impact on the family?  This inspirational and cautionary plenary session will explore these issues and, hopefully, help family law professionals approach their work with more humility, more respect for the family and with a greater awareness of the consequences, both intended and unintended, that we have on the family.

Learning Objectives:

Participants will be more alert to the nature of family systems and systems change

Participants will learn what we really know and don’t know about the interventions we advise and order

Participants will become more aware of and respectful of the autonomy of the family

12:00 to 1:15             Lunch on own; Member Buffet

 1:15 to 3:15               Workshop Sessions A or B (Part I each 2.0 hours duration)

 Workshop A Part 1:  Benjamin Garber, Ph.D. Afternoon Master Class (3.75 total hours): “How do you get refueled?" They may be legally divorced. Now they need to get emotionally divorced!


Approaching the best interests standard through the lens of the child’s need for emotional fuel invites new and creative approaches to a number of common areas of family law practice. Dr. Garber suggests that early attachment relationships and social capital more generally provide children with critical emotional fuel and build resilience against anxiety. Our job, as family law professionals, is to assess where and how each child gets that fuel and to intervene both through therapies and judicial rulings to maximize those opportunities. These concepts are applied to four specific areas of practice: (1) child custody evaluations can be designed so as to more efficiently and more effectively (yes – less time and less cost to collect more and better data!) by incorporating a process-oriented protocol; (2) Co-parenting and Parent Coordination interventions can be made more effective when the adults’ emotional divorce is clarified by assuring that neither is seeking emotional fuel from the other; (3) “reunification” interventions can be made more effective by integrating established CBT strategies to diminish anxiety and maximize the child’s opportunity to enjoy a healthy relationship with both parents; and (4) self-care: The work that we do takes its toll. The risk of burn-out, compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma is high. The day closes by asking you to reconsider the question, “where do you get refueled?”

Learning Objectives:

(a)    Participants will become better able to approach self-care, forensic assessment and forensic intervention from the perspective of emotional refueling

(b)    Participants will better understand and apply the idea of social capital as it bears on understanding and serving the needs of court-involved children.

(c)     Participants will better understand and apply the idea of resilience as it bears on understanding and serving the needs of court-involved children.

(d)    Participant-evaluators will become able to include process-oriented observations so as to better and more efficiently assess resilience, social capital and emotional refueling.

(e)    Participant-therapists will become better able to recognize and respond to the ways in which social capital and emotional refueling can facilitate or impede progress in co-parenting and parenting coordination.

(f)      Participant-therapists will become better able to integrate CBT tools to manage anxiety and thereby facilitate reunification interventions.

 Workshop B Part 1: Robert Simon, Ph.D. Afternoon Master Class (3.75 total hours) Cognitive and Implicit Bias:  Beware!  Our Brains Fool Us and Lead us Astray


No matter how hard we try to approach our work with neutrality and objectivity, the fact that we are human and that we have human brains leads us to bring to our work biases, both known and not known.  Because bias is the greatest risk to the integrity and usefulness of the work we do, becoming aware of our biases, especially implicit biases and cognitive biases, is essential to doing our work as well as we can.  This intensive and interactive/experiential Master Class will explore cognitive and implicit bias, will help you recognize those biases you are most prone to and will help teach debiasing strategies. Be prepared for a stimulating, enlightening and even surprising Master Class.

 Learning Objectives:

Participants will learn what cognitive and implicit biases are and why they can’t be avoided

Participants will identify cognitive and implicit biases to which they, individually, are prone

Participants will learn de-biasing strategies.

3:15 to 3:30               Break

 3:30 to 5:15               Workshop Sessions            A or B Part 2  (each 1.75 hours duration)

Workshop A Part 2 : Benjamin Garber, Ph.D. Afternoon Master Class (3.75 total hours): “How do you get refueled?" They may be legally divorced. Now they need to get emotionally divorced!

Workshop B Part 2: Robert Simon, Ph.D. Afternoon Master Class (3.75 total hours) Cognitive and Implicit Bias:  Beware!  Our Brains Fool Us and Lead us Astray

5:15 to 6:30               End Training Sessions; Certificate Distribution

                                    Meet the Speakers Social Hour


Other WA AFCC Training Events

WA AFCC has organized a speaker's bureau and an Education Committee which provides a wide range of training events throughout the year. 

There is a new program beginning this year called

Chips 'n  Chat

which has begun with a two-part series on Visitation Resistance. The schedule and location are noted here. Please contact SondraF@Elisebuiefamilylaw.com to RSVP and obtain a spot for this free event. Space is limited and will be used on a first come basis by using your email as the admission. Part 1 was held October 24th on the topic of Visitation Resistance. Plan to join us for part 2 of this event to discuss practical elements of dealing with visitation resistance.


Wednesday February 13 -- Visitation Resistance, Part 2

5:00 to 5:30 Networking and Refreshments

5:30 to 6:30 Video Presentation, Visitation Resistance

6:30 to 7:00 Discussion

Appetizers and Drinks

Conference Room (45th floor), Elise Buie, J.D. (1001 Fourth Ave., Suite 44, Seattle, WA 98154

CLE credits applied, Non-AFCC members are invited to attend


Registration is now open for the AFCC 56th Annual Conference

The Future of Family Justice: International Innovations

Westin Harbour Castle Hotel in Toronto

May 29-June 1, 2019

 More Information available at www.afccnet.org



More than 100 conference sessions, including eight pre-conference institutes for an intensive learning experience. An international and interdisciplinary delegation of more than 1,100 professionals from around the world! Up to 20.5 hours of continuing education for psychologists, lawyers, mental health professionals, social workers, mediators, and others (see p. 27 for details). AFCC E2M (early-to-mid-career) networking opportunities. Silent Auction and Banquet featuring Ontario’s own The British Invasion.


Conference Materials from 2015 are still available at the following link

Conference Materials


CD's and MP3 recordings of Conference Sessions are 

available at the following link

Conference Recordings


See Details about Past Conferences at the Past Conference Tab 

or Follow this Link



Other AFCC Conferences of Interest

AFCC Training (details available at www.afccnet.org)


link to AFCC main page for more general info

Other Local Training Events of Interest



 President:  Dennis Cronin, J.D.   dc@dccronin.com
Webmaster Daniel Rybicki, Psy.D. info@wa-afcc.net

(253) 509-0922 phone/fax

© 2018 WA-AFCC