Washington Chapter Seminars
Return to Index
Seminars and Conferences
A primary function of WA AFCC is to provide annual educational conferences and membership meetings. Networking opportunities and task force activities will be part of this process along with giving those in attendance valuable Continuing Education credits (CLE, CME hours). Additional training events will be scheduled at various locations throughout the year. Check back often for updates to the training schedule.
To view details of past conferences, link here
We recently held our Fifth Annual WA AFCC Conference, Saturday March 7th.
Shared Parenting Predicaments: Washington's Policy and Practice Concerns
Plenary sessions were held with several top experts in the field. Among these notable presenters were attorney J. Herbie DiFonzo, J.D., Ph.D., Professor of Law at Hofstra University and author of two books including Beneath the Fault Line: The Popular and Legal Culture of Divorce in 20th Century America. He is the co-reporter and editor of the AFCC special issue on Shared Parenting which emerged from the AFCC Think Tank (Family Court Review, April 2014). He spoke on the topic of Shared Parenting: Research, Policy and Practice.
Session I: Shared
Parenting in the 21st Century: How Law and Culture Shape Child Custody
(8:45-10:15 1.5 hr)
In this lecture, Professor
DiFonzo will focus on the most significant — and disturbing — development in
child custody determinations in a generation. The formally gender-neutral
“best interests” standard is under attack across the United States,
triggered by a father’s rights movement calling for a presumptive 50-50
division of child custody upon divorce. Bills have been introduced in many state
legislatures that would replace the individualized child custody decision with a
mathematical formula. Professor DiFonzo will discuss the problem and propose a
solution drawn from the increasing use of “parenting plans” devised by the
divo rcing parents themselves. These
homemade custody resolutions, frequently constructed with the help of mediation
and other techniques to avoid litigation, provide methods for sharing custody
more in keeping with child development findings in psychology and less likely to
lead to further litigation.
Learning Objectives: Attendees will learn –
Learning Objectives: Attendees will learn –
a. How the history of child custody
affects the current policy debate and legal choices
b. Understanding the interplay
between the "best interest" standard and legal presumptions
Plans—what they are and how they can change the culture of divorce, nationwide
and in Washington State
J. Herbie DiFonzo, J.D., Ph.D. is a professor of law who has taught at Hofstra University since 1995. He
serves on the faculty of the Maurice A. Deane School of Law. He was born in
Buenos Aires and raised in New York City. Professor DiFonzo received a JD, PhD
and an MA from the University of Virginia. He served for six years as a federal
prosecutor, followed by another decade of law practice (family, civil, and
criminal) before becoming a full-time faculty member.
DiFonzo teaches courses in family law, civil procedure, and alternatives to
litigation. He has written two books: Intimate Associations: The Law and
Culture of American Families, co-authored with Ruth C. Stern, and Beneath
the Fault Line: The Popular and Legal Culture of Divorce in Twentieth-Century
America. His eclectic interests have also led him to publish articles on
forensic evidence, collaborative law, and medical marijuana. In 2004 Professor
DiFonzo gave the Peter E. Herman Prize for Literary Excellence Lecture titled
“Unbundling Marriage: Interpreting the Legal and Cultural Changes in Family
Structure.” In 2006 he received the Stanley Cohen Distinguished Research
Award for his work on improving family law teaching. In 2014, he delivered
University Distinguished Faculty Lecture, Dilemmas
of Shared Parenting in the 21st Century: How Law and Culture Shape Child
is serving this year as a Law School Research Fellow, working on a project to
provide dispute resolution services to unrepresented parents in New York.
Also on the agenda wa Mindy Mitnick, Ed.D., M.A. who presented on the Special Needs of Never Married Parents.
(Mindy Mitnick, Left; Christine Coastes, Right)
We heard from Christine Coates, J.D., a renowned expert on Parenting Coordination, Mediation, High Conflict and ADR who presented on Parenting Coordination and Other Innovations for High Conflict Cases.
Session II: Special Needs of Never Married Parents
married parents are appearing before the Court on matters of custody and
parenting time in increasing numbers. This
program is intended for attorneys, mediators, evaluators, and judicial officers.
We will identify how family law professionals can help this diverse group
navigate the system towards successful resolution of their disputes.
The workshop will provide potential solutions for conflicts experienced
by this heterogeneous demographic. We
will focus on interventions tailored to the roadblocks to resolution typically
seen in this group of parents, including ADR and evaluations.
will be able to:
Identify the similarities
and differences in the group of never married parents
Apply research to inform
practice with these parents
the components of a successful co-parenting relationship in this population
Mindy F. Mitnick, Ed.D., is a Licensed Psychologist practicing in Minneapolis. She received a Master of Education from Harvard University and a Master of Arts from the University of Minnesota. She specializes in work with families in the divorce process and with victims of abuse and their families. Ms. Mitnick has trained professionals throughout the country and abroad in identification and treatment of child abuse, the use of expert witnesses in child abuse and divorce cases, effective interviewing techniques with children, interventions in high-conflict divorce and the impact of psychological trauma. She has been a speaker for the National Child protection Training Center, National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse, National Association of Counsel for Children, the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and numerous statewide multidisciplinary training programs. Ms. Mitnick has written and taught extensively about the assessment of child sexual abuse allegations during custody disputes. Ms. Mitnick served as a member of the ABA Criminal Justice Section Task Force on Child Witnesses and as a member of the AFCC Task Force on Court-Involved Therapy. She is serving her second term on the Board of Directors of AFCC.
Session III: Perspectives
on Parenting Coordination and Other Innovations for High Conflict Cases (1:15-2:45
Parenting coordination is a relatively new process of ADR in family cases, having been introduced in the late 1990s. The parenting coordination process has spread throughout North America and other countries and has become a popular intervention with post-decree, high-conflict families. As an early proponent and developer of the process and chair of AFCC’s Task Force on Parenting Coordination that published Guidelines for Parenting Coordination, the presenter will provide an overview of the evolution of parenting coordination, including current models of parenting coordination, best practices, and challenges. Creative and innovative interventions for high conflict families will also be highlighted, with suggestions for effective integration by practitioners.
a. The participants understand the most common models of parenting coordination.
b. The participants recognize the best practices and challenges of serving as parenting coordinator.
c. The participants are introduced to the dynamics of high conflict and recent innovations in interventions with high-conflict families.
Christine A. Coates, M.Ed., J.D., an experienced family law attorney since 1983, now emphasizes alternative dispute resolution in domestic relations and has been a mediator for over 30 years. A former president of AFCC, she chaired the Task Force on Parenting Coordination that developed AFCC’s Guidelines for Parenting Coordinators. The co-author of two books, Working with High Conflict Families of Divorce (2001) and Learning from Divorce (2003), she is a frequent and popular national trainer and speaker on alternative dispute resolution. She has been honored for her advocacy for children, contributions to the legal system and to the field of alternative dispute resolution, including AFCC’s John Van Duzer Distinguished Service Award and its President’s Award, as well as the Association for Conflict Resolution’s John Haynes Distinguished Mediator Award. Ms. Coates also serves as adjunct professor at the University of Denver.
Break Out Afternoon sessions included speakers
such as Dr. Carl McCurley, Manager of the WA State Center for Court Research who has published data on the Residential Time Patterns in Washington custody cases. He spoke about Parenting Plans in Practice: Best Available Evidence.
(Dr. Carl McCurley, left; Paul Battan, J.D., middle; Alyson Jones, M.A., right)
Also on hand was local attorney Paul Battan, J.D. presenting on the Interface between Family Law and Criminal Law. And rounding out the sessions was a panel presentation by Alyson Jones, M.A., et al from Vancouver, BC entitled Moving Families Forward: A Coordinated Re-Unification Response to Parental Alienation, Estrangement, and High Conflict.
Breakout Sessions (3:00-4:30 1.5 hr)
A: Parenting Plans in Practice: Best Available Evidence.
The presentation covers the source data for and results from the
Washington State Center for Court Research's series of Residential Time Summary
Reports, launched in response to a request contained in legislation from the
2007 session. Data collection relies on self-report from parties filing
dissolution petitions; although the data is the best currently available, it has
important limitations and improvements to the data collection process will be
recommended. Results from 2008,
2009, 2010, and 2014 reports will be presented, showing the distribution of
residential time allocated to mothers and fathers, allocation of residential
time in cases where one parent is reported to have one or more risk factors
(having committed domestic violence, abuse or neglect of children, substance
abuse, or mental health needs), residential time as it relates to representation
of parties, and the use of dispute resolution.
Attendees will learn--
Why the report series is produced
How data is collected, and who reports on residential time (by court, and the
percentage of reports submitted by mothers or by fathers)
The results of analysis of the most recent data
is the manager of the Washington State Center for Court Research. He has worked
with the Center’s team of dedicated professionals since 2006 in close
conjunction with courts to launch research projects and performance reporting
programs aligned with the priorities of the judicial branch.
For example, the Center has designed, developed, and deployed performance
reporting for both juvenile probation and children in foster care, and is
working to develop state-wide, court-level reporting for multi-system involved
youth. With Carl’s leadership the Center has formed long-term, cooperative,
and productive working relationships with university, non-profit, and government
researchers on topics ranging from children charged with status offending to
creating, validating, and revising risk and need assessment instruments.
Before arriving in Washington, Carl was a researcher at the National
Center for Juvenile Justice, where he worked on topics related to juvenile
problem behaviors, including violent offending, violent sex offending, domestic
violence, and substance use. Carl has extensive experience with the analysis of
survey data and data from official sources, such as courts and law enforcement
agencies, and has taught classes in public policy, public administration, and
research methods at the university level. He received a B.A. in Government
(University of Texas) and a Ph.D. in Political Science (Indiana University).
B: Interface Between Family Law
and Criminal Law
Family law attorneys and
mental health practitioners dealing with parents involved in custody disputes
will confront situations where clients may engage in behaviors or have questions
about acts which fall in the “convergence zone” of contested issues in civil
domains and criminal activity as defined by prevailing Washington statutes. This
workshop will afford participants an opportunity to consider a large number of
such circumstances (e.g., checking
spouse’s email, installing keystroke monitor, calling a child and
inadvertently talking to one’s ex-spouse when protective orders are in place).
In addition to presenting a summary of many applicable RCW references,
there will be an emphasis on shared experience and discussion in this session.
Participants will --
a. Receive a table of applicable criminal laws that
could become an issue in a family law legal practice, a counseling practice, or
for family law investigators.
b. Become alert to common actions which can prompt
multiple jurisdiction concerns.
c. Share in a discussion of thorny issues which may be
avoided with proper guidance from counsel or from therapists.
Paul Battan, J.D. has practiced law since 1983 in private practice in Olympia. Since 1985
he has focused on family law as a solo practitioner. Paul has served on the
board of the Thurston County Bar Association, as the association=s President, as
Family Law Section Chair, and Guardianship Roundtable Chair. For three years he
served as Thurston County court commissioner for mental illness commitment
hearings. He is a contributing author to one chapter of the Washington State Bar
Association=s Family Law
Deskbook. He served as the WSBA Family Law Executive Committee=s
legislative liaison for one year.
C: Moving Families
Forward: a Coordinated Re-Unification Response to Parental Alienation,
Estrangement and High Conflict Family Situations.
Alyson Jones, MA RCC , Saba
Golchin, MA RCC, Rebecca Smyth, MA Candidate, and Rob Croezen, MSW RSW
presenters will explain why a coordinated team approach is essential when
dealing with complex family situations, and the workshop will provide a
communication protocol that assists in time and cost efficiency in these cases.
The presenters will provide practical tools regarding how to respond to family
fractures. The structure of the team approach will be outlined and the different
roles of the team members will be explored in a practical and informative
manner. This highly coordinated and structured model provides a solution to
these challenging and often heart-breaking cases.
Families Forward Workshop Outline (90 minute workshop)
Introduction of Panel and Program;
Overview of the Impact of Parental Conflict
Information regarding Parental
Alienation and Estrangement
The Family Forward Reunification
Reality Checks when Dealing with
High Conflict, and the implementation of a Coordinated Treatment Program
Structure of the Family Forward
Steps of the Program
Questions and Discussion
Participants will become familiar with a non-residential re-integration model
for parental alienation, estrangement and high conflict.
Participants will gain an understanding of a transparent communication protocol
that creates containment and movement in highly challenging cases.
c. Participants will gain practical tools on how to
respond to all family members within a family system that is experiencing an
Jones, MA, RCC,
will serve at the session coordinator. She is the Clinical Director and the
visionary at Alyson Jones & Associates. She enthusiastically leads one of
the largest counselling centers in the province of British Columbia and
approaches her work with passion and commitment. She enjoys contribution,
connection and community. Her work as clinical director, counsellor, public
speaker, parent educator, teacher and author enables her to touch the lives of
has developed her MORE philosophy through many years of practice and practical
living. She is a highly respected Child and Family Therapist who has been
featured in the media sharing her extensive knowledge. Alyson is a public
speaker, Facilitator and Strategic Coach who does presentations and workshops
for both the public and professional audiences. She is also an adjunct faculty
member at the Adler School of Professional Psychology where she teaches graduate
students in psychology.
a Registered Clinical Counsellor who specializes in therapy for children,
adolescents, families, individuals and couples. SShe assists families in
developing problem solving techniques, and also specializes in enhancing the
attachment between parent and child. A main focus for Alyson is the issue of
separation and divorce. She is a
trained Parent Coordinator, Mediator, Collaborative Law Divorce Coach and Child
Specialist. She works to assist families in reducing conflict and working
towards a healthy resolution for the entire family. Alyson believes that people
are immensely creative and guides them to use this strength in their efforts
towards growth and transformation. She creates a safe place for children to
grieve any feelings of loss, build self-esteem and regain a sense of control in
their lives. She also guides parents through this challenging time and has
helped many families adjust to this difficult life transition.
Details of her co-presenters is available at Alyson Jones and Associates website address (http://alysonjones.ca/our-therapists)
Be Sure to Mark Your Calendar for the 2016 National AFCC Conference to held in Seattle
June 1-4, 2016
Registration includes program materials, training and refreshments. Members will
be holding a lunch meeting and mingle (buffet lunch served). Tickets
are available for non-members to join the lunch meeting, otherwise lunch is on
Register early for savings. Class size is limited, so sign up soon.
Program materials will be distributed on-line and by way of USB flash drive as PDF
documents. Session materials will not be distributed in print form at the
conference. High speed wireless internet is available at the Washington Athletic
Club for a fee.
Parking fees are not included. There are several public lots nearby and a
parking facility used by the WAC is about a half-block north on Sixth. Public
transportation is also available.
Lodging: Please make your own travel arrangements. A limited number of rooms are available at the WAC for WA AFCC attendees. Other major hotel chains such as the Sheraton are within easy walking distance.
Who Should Attend? Attorneys, Guardian Ad Litem, Judicial
Officers, Psychologists, Mental Health Professionals, Researchers and Treatment
Providers involved with Family Law and Dependency Court custody matters.
Once the Registration Forms are prepared, we will have a link here for online registration and/or for a registration form to mail in.
The Washington State Bar (WSBA) has approved the program for up to 6.0 hours of Continuing Legal Education (Activity ID: 385994).
This program has been approved for 6 hours of CEUs by the NASW Washington State Chapter. Licensed Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Mental Health Counselors are eligible. WA AFCC is an approved provider(#1975-312) for continuing education credits under the guidelines set forth by the NASW-WA chapter.
Attorneys wishing to have their CE credits reported to the WSBA for
CLE certification will be required to pay a fee to cover administrative and
reporting costs. AFCC members will be charged $10 for this reporting fee.
Non-members will be charged $15.
program has been reviewed by the Association of Family
and Conciliation Courts. AFCC is approved by the American Psychological Association to
sponsor continuing education for psychologists. AFCC maintains responsibility
for the program and its content.
AFCC will provide a certificate of conference attendance for a
processing fee of $10 for members and $15 for non-members. The certificate will
verify attendance at conference sessions and may be used to apply for continuing
education credits with the registrant’s accrediting institution.
All persons registered in advance will be able to pick up a
certificate of attendance at the close of the conference. They will be required
to fill out and return a verification of attendance form which will be signed by
one of our staff. These certificates are provided with conference registration.
However, only those persons paying the additional certificate fees noted above
will have their CLE hours reported directly to the WSBA or receive a copy of the
AFCC signed certificate.
Conference sessions will be recorded and MP3 downloads of the sessions will be
available after the conference through VWTapes.com who will offer both immediate
MP3 downloads and CD formats. Information will be posted on our website for
access to these and other conference recordings. You may also go to VWTapes
directly at http://vwtapes.com/wa-afcc.aspx
to purchase recordings. No personal audio or video recording of sessions is
you have special meal requests or other special needs, please note this on the
registration form. The WAC meeting facilities, its guest rooms, common areas,
and transportation services are in compliance with public accommodation
requirements of the ADA.
Cancellation Policy: Transfer of registration to another person may be done at any time prior to
the event without a fee. All requests for refunds must be made in writing.
Written notice of cancellation received by fax or postmarked by February 25,
2015 will be issued a full refund minus a $25 service fee. Written notice after
February 25th will have the service fee deducted and the balance will be issued as a
credit for future WA AFCC conferences, publications, or membership dues. No
refunds or credits will be issued for cancellations received after March 3,
Return to Index