New Ways For Families
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What is New Ways for Families™?
New Ways for Families is a structured parenting skills method with short-term counseling to reduce the impact of conflict on the children in potentially high-conflict cases. It can be used whenever a parent or the court believes one parent needs restricted parenting (supervised, no contact, limited time), at the start of a case or any time a parent requests restricted parenting – including post-judgment litigation.
This method emphasizes strengthening skills for positive future behavior (new ways), rather than focusing on past negative behavior – while still acknowledging it. It is designed to save courts time, to save parents money, and to protect children as their families re-organize in new ways after a separation or divorce, for married or never-married parents. This method can be used in family court, mediation, collaborative divorce, or even post-divorce with the assistance of a Parenting Coordinator or High Conflict Case Manager.
Goals of New Ways for Families™
- To immunize families against becoming high-conflict families during the separation and the divorce process.
- To help parents teach their children resilience in this time of huge and rapid change in the foundation of their family life
- To strengthen both parent's abilities to make parenting decisions, while relying less on experts and the courts to make their decisions for them.
- To assist professionals and the courts in assessing both parent's potential to learn new, positive ways of problem-solving and organizing their family after a separation or divorce.
- To give parents a chance to change poor parenting behaviors (including abuse and alienation) before long-term decisions are made. This method emphasizes learning new skills for positive future behavior.
How It Works
Step 1: Getting Started
Parents can agree to use New Ways, or a judge can order it while also making temporary parenting orders, support orders, and restraining orders. First, each parent selects his or her own Individual Parent Counselor from a list of counselors trained in the New Ways method. Then, each parent prepares a Behavioral Declaration and a Reply Behavioral Declaration, which are the only declarations provided to the counselors, along with any related parenting orders, two business days before the counseling begins.
Step 2: Individual Parent Counseling
Each parent attends 6 weekly sessions with a separate, confidential counselor, using a Parent Workbook. Both parents participate in this counseling concurrently with their own counselor, with no presumptions about who is more difficult. The focus of these sessions is strengthening and practicing three conflict-reducing skills: flexible thinking, managed emotions, and moderate behaviors.
Step 3: Parent-Child Counseling
This step includes three sessions with each parent and their child/ren, alternating weeks over six weeks. The parents share the same non-confidential counselor. They each continue using their own Parent Workbook for these sessions. The Parent-Child Counselor does not write a report, but can be called to testify at court. The focus of these sessions is having the parents teach their children the same three skills they learned in their Individual Counseling, hearing the children’s concerns, and discussing the new ways their family will operate with the child/ren.
Step 4: Family (or Court) Decision-making
Finally, parents use their new ways skills to develop a lasting parenting plan with the assistance of their attorneys (if any), Family Court Services, a private mediator or a collaborative team. If they are unable to settle the case at this point, then they go to Family Court to report what they have learned. The judge will quiz each parent on how they would handle future parenting scenarios, based on their Behavioral Declarations. Then the judge will hear the case, which may include testimony from the Parent-Child Counselor. The judge then orders long-term parenting, support, and other orders, which could include long-term restraining orders, batterers treatment, drug treatment, parenting class, a psychological evaluation, Minor’s Counsel, and/or a High Conflict Case Manager, etc.
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