Advanced Parenting Issues – Agenda – 11/30/18

NOVEMBER 30, 2018


8:00–8:30: Registration and Breakfast Provided

8:30–9:30: Children’s Age-Appropriate Responses to Divorce / Kristen Little, MA
Many issues challenge a child’s adjustment to his/her parents’ divorce, be it new partners, ongoing conflict between parents or moving to a new school. The manner in which a child processes change and new information and how one communicates with that child regarding these challenges is critically age-dependant. This section will focus on children’s needs and how they may be expressed; how to monitor children’s behavior for signs of distress and how parents may intervene to support their child.

9:30–10:30: Special Issues Presented by Step-Families / Joseph Shaub, Attorney at Law, LMFT and Karen Bonnell, ARPN, MS
In the vast majority of cases, divorce will ultimately result in the creation of step-family relationships. These can be the most trying challenges faced by parents and children. These stresses are exacerbated by the presence of many popular, but grossly inaccurate, assumptions about how we are to manage these step-family relationships. This section will cut through the fog of misconceptions to clarify how both adults and children process this extremely common transition into new family constellations and how adults can support their children, and each other, in this often impossible-feeling next step in the family life-cycle.

10:30–10:45: Break

10:45–11:45: Family-Centered and Developmentally Appropiate Parenting Plans / Karen Bonnell, ARPN, MS and Elise Buie, Attorney at Law
Developmentally-appropriate residential schedules and skillful co-parenting directly impact the life-long emotional and physical health of children. The post-decree family system will go through developmental transitions that, when anticipated, can support the health of the expanding family. As new adults (and often children) join the family, a creative parenting plan speaks to this changing reality. Because these complexities are often the source of stress and conflict prescribing solutions before disaster strikes adds to the durability of the Parenting Plans over time. Helping parents find their way requires imagination and skill. Trained professional teams coordinate and craft robust, functional, durable, and unambiguous parenting plans that promote developmentally appropriate residential schedules and skillful parenting across the family life-span.

11:45-1:00 Lunch

1:00-2:00 Aggrieved Parent Communication Patterns and How to Coach Divorcing Partners Out of Them / Anne Lucas, MA
It is the bane of every divorce professional. The toxic communication patterns that plagued the couple before separation continue with renewed vigor after separation – often long after the final divorce orders are entered. In what often turns into an uncontrolled chain reaction, former partners trigger and wound each other in an escalating crescendo which leaves the children feeling isolated and vulnerable. Often the professional may be working with only one of the parents who reports confusion and distress in the face of their angry former partner. These destructive patterns can be identified and alleviated with appropriate tools provided by the divorce professional. This segment will discuss both the painful communication styles and ameliorative tools.

2:00-3:00 Special Challenges of the Child on the Autism Spectrum / Marnee Milner, PhD
Many parents who must construct a parenting plan have a child on the autism spectrum. Some of these children demonstrate profound impairment and will require significant institutional support throughout their life. Other children are quite functional and go to mainstream schools. Even for these children, however, the separation and divorce of their parents presents unique challenges. This segment will describe this “spectrum,” with particular attention to co-parenting arrangements which best meet the needs of the functional child on the autism spectrum.

3:00-3:15: Afternoon Break

3:15-4:15 Mediating the Move-Away Case / Joseph Shaub, Attorney at Law, LMFT
It is perhaps the most challenging conflict facing divorced parents – one parent wishes to move out-of-state with the children, over the intense objection of the other parent. In the legal environment, these cases often end up in trial, because the stakes are so high and the solutions feel binary. However, this does not have to be the case. With a deep and thoughtful exploration of the needs and interests of both parents, creative solutions can often be fashioned which will avoid the wrenching win-lose outcome of so many move-away cases. Keys to resolution of these matters which are “interest based” rather than simply based on “what the court will do” will be explored.

4:15: Adjournment and Evaluations