High-conflict Divorce Services

Divorce or separation presents unique challenges for children.  I offer services for divorcing parents to reduce conflict and resolve disputes.

Divorce and it’s associated stresses and losses can pose great disadvantages to your children.  The Longevity Project found that the divorce of one’s parents as a child, shortens a child’s life more than the death of a parent.  The single strongest social predictor of early death in adulthood is parental divorce during childhood.  Many of the harms of divorce can be mitigated by focusing on the needs of the children and reducing conflict with your co-parent.  Communicating effectively is essential to reducing conflict.  Here is a useful guide on co-parent communication. 

It is often useful to be familiar with research findings about parent-child time sharing in making decisions about these issues.  I have assembled some of the most useful information on this issue here .

Mom Loses Custody for Alienating Dad is an article that shows how severe the consequences can be for being a vindictive co-parent.

Special Master Services

When divorced parents have a particular difficulty cooperating and co-parenting, they may have a special master appointed to resolve their parenting disputes.  In general, a special master is appointed by the Court with an order that outlines the role and powers of the special master  Typically, the special master is empowered to resolve a limited set of parenting disputes.  Once decided, the special master’s decision has the weight of a court order, unless or until reversed by the Court.  For more detail see the special master form on the Forms Page.

For special master services I require a $1000 retainer (usually paid in equal parts by the parties, but this can be specified differently by the Court).  I require the parents to communicate with each other and the special master via email.  I require the responsible parties to keep a valid credit card on file to bill if accounts are not paid in accordance with the contract provisions.  For more information see the Special Master forms. 

Parents who need a Special Master tend to have difficulty communicating appropriately with the other parent and the special master.  Since civil communication is key to progress, I have some guidelines for appropriate communication for special master clients.

Parenting Coordination

Parenting coordinator services are for divorced parents who have mild to moderate difficulties co-parenting.  Parenting coordinators are sometimes appointed by the Court, and sometimes hired by the parties themselves.  A parenting coordinator meets with parents in person and/or via email to address co-parenting issues that require knowledge of parenting and child development.  A parenting coordinator usually has no authority to resolve disputes, but can provide advice and recommendations. 

For parenting coordinator services, I require a $1000 retainer (usually paid in equal parts by the parties, but this can be specified differently by the Court).  I require the parents to communicate with each other and the parenting coordinator via email.  I require the responsible parties to keep a valid credit card on file to bill if accounts are not paid in accordance with the contract provisions. 

For more information about Parenting Coordinator Services, you can read and print the forms from the Forms Page.

Parent-child Reunification Therapy

Reunification therapy is to restore a relationship between a parent and child who are estranged and not participating in scheduled parent-time.  Reunification is not a health care service; it is not treating a diagnosable condition, and cannot be billed to health insurance.  The purpose of reunification therapy is to discuss and resolve the conflicts or disputes that underlie the estrangement so that regular visits and a healthy parent-child relationship can be restored.

Reunification therapy can have benefits and risks.  Estrangement is a strategy of avoidance, and reunification requires resolving problems without avoidance.  It requires meetings where conflicts are discussed, and can be uncomfortable.  The consequences of allowing parental estrangement to persist are well documented in research and include a loss of family and emotional support, loss of financial support, and the development of relationship skills that are associated with poor adult relationship functioning.  Successful parent-child reunification restores the severed relationship and relieves the problems associated with estrangement.

Reunification forms can be found on the Forms Page.

Co-parenting therapy

Co-parenting therapy is intended to improve the quality of communication and effective collaboration of divorced parents for the benefit of their children. Divorced parents often have difficulty working together, for obvious reasons. Yet, parental conflict is well known to create poorer outcomes for children, while cooperative co-parenting leads to child outcomes indistinguishable from children in intact families (see https://chriswehl.com/high-conflict-divorce-services/parenting-after-divorce/ ). I typically begin by meeting individually with each parent, to understand the issues from their perspective. I will usually meet with parties jointly, with some side communications about problem behaviors. We will discuss issues of dispute, but the focus will be on how the problems are discussed, as much as whether you can agree on a solution.

Co-parenting therapy is for co-parents who want to learn to discuss their children and parenting in a collaborative, respectful way, can avoid discussing personal grievances from the past and focus on the needs of the children, want to learn about parenting and co-parenting “best practices,” want to discuss and resolve outstanding issues, such as scheduling, school concerns, behavioral concerns, recognize and accept the importance of both parents in the children’s lives, can accept that this process is about your child, not you. If you cannot answer yes to each of these, you are not a good candidate for co-parenting therapy. You may need to do some work in individual therapy first, to get to this point. Both parents must be able to endorse these goals to begin co-parenting therapy with me.  Click here for more details.

Clinical and forensic psychological services