“Empirical evidence consistently points to parental conflict as the factor that most
consistently predicts maladjustment among children whose parents have separated or
Placing Parents within the Mind of Their Child
Whether it comes in the form of marital stress, parents separating, or divorcing, parental conflict hurts children. According to Robert Emery, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and Director of the Center for Children, Families, and the Law at the University of Virginia,
A CFA Reduces the Harm
The Resolution Center cannot stop the hurt, but we can reduce the harm. The Child and Family Advocate brings the mind of the parent into the experience of their child. The CFA guides parental attitudes and interactions as they make decisions so that conflict decreases between the parents which then strengthens child and parent relationships. Parents give their child a “Safety Zone” free of parental conflict filled instead with respect for the child’s emotional needs. Parents come to see their child as part of the fabric of a reconstituted family that will continue, even after the marriage has ended.
The Child and Family Advocate services are required in the package of services for all families with children going through Solution-Focused Divorce. It is recommended with stand-alone mediation services. The CFA spends time both with the parents and with the children. Because children in the same family will experience life differently given their age, temperament, and coping abilities, the CFA speaks clearly into the conciliation process about the needs of each child from that child’s perspective while understanding the needs of parents ending a marital relationship. Time can also be devoted to the concerns of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and other extended family members. The CFA brings new and strengthened abilities to each member of the family assuring the continuity of child parent relationships in the context of parental respect. It is a transforming work that joins naturally with the mediation/arbitration process to produce the most satisfying outcomes for all members of a family.
The typical CFA process consists of six steps.
Step 1 – It starts with the parents completing the exercises at the www.uptoparents.org website and forwarding the responses to the CFA for review.
Step 2 – The CFA meets with the parents to discuss their perspectives and understanding of the child(ren). Parents family histories, their individual relationships with the child(ren) and their desires for their child(ren)’s future are discussed.
Step 3 – The CFA spends time with the children in each parent’s home. Meetings with extended family can be arranged as appropriate in each individual circumstance.
Step 4 – The CFA’s reports her impressions and opinions are first shared with the parents and then with the mediator/arbitrator as a support to the conciliation process.
Step 5 – Finally, the CFA reviews any parenting plans developed during conciliation with a focus on the needs of the children and the restructured future family.
Step 6 – When an arbitration decision is filed, the CFA and the arbitrator jointly prepare and file with the Court a “Best Interests Statement” that justifies the decisions regarding a formal parenting plan that supports a positive relationship between the children and parents.