Washington Chapter Association of Family and Conciliation Courts

For questions about registering for the conference, including how to register by phone, contact:

Kirk Roberts
(360) 734-3166
Saturday, September 22, 2018

8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Registration opens at 8:00 a.m.

No-Host Bar Social Hour
4:45 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Add to Calendar 

WAC logo

Washington Athletic Club
1325 Sixth Ave
Seattle, WA 98101   

 (206) 464-3055

Driving Directions

PARKING AVAILABLE on a first-come, first-served basis at 1409 Sixth Avenue. Additional fee required.

Post-Conference Social Hour
4:45 to 6:30 p.m.

Join your colleagues for our informal, no-host bar social hour. Meet the speakers, connect with old friends, and support WA AFCC!

New Member Special

Now is a great time to join AFCC! Member benefits include reduced rates at all training events and online access to all the issues of Family Court Review, the interdisciplinary journal published by AFCC.

Dues for AFCC are $160 for individuals and you can join the local WA -AFCC chapter for $40 more.

Information available at www.afccnet.org

Refund/Cancellation Policy

Transfer of registration to another person may be done at any time prior to the event without a fee.Please notify WA AFCC if you transfer your registration.

All requests for refunds must be made in writing.

  • Written notice of cancellation received by fax or postmarked by August 20, 2018, will be issued a full refund minus a $25 service fee.
  • Written notice received by fax or postmarked after August 20, 2018, will have the $25 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 September 14, 2018.

Sponsors are integral to our conference's success!

Learn more...

Special Thanks to Our Sponsors for 2018


And thanks again to our past sponsors!

WA AFCC Seventh Annual Conference
Fractured Families and Fresh Solutions

Saturday, September 22, 2018
8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Registration starts at 8:00 a.m.

Online registration, and the opportunity to purchase a ticket for the lunch buffet, is closed.

You may register at the door from 8:00 to 8:15 a.m.

All professionals dedicated to the resolution of family conflict are invited to attend. Past conference attendees included attorneys, guardians ad litem, judicial officers, psychologists, mental health professionals, as well as researchers and treatment providers involved with Family Law and Dependency Court custody matters. Up to 6.0 hours of continuing education credits are available for attorneys, psychologists, social workers, marriage and family therapists, licensed mental health counselors, and other professionals.*

Our morning plenaries will feature "Child Development for Family Law Professionals" presented by Mindy Mitnick, M.Ed., and a "View from the Bench," a judicial panel featuring Hon. Judge Anne Hirsch (Thurston), Hon. Judge Jesse Reeves (Stevens), Hon. Judge Deborah Fleck (ret.), and Hon. Comm. Jackie Jeske.

The afternoon breakout sessions will cover a broad range of topics. A schedule with session descriptions is below.

More information on learning objectives, our presenters, and continuing education credit information is available at www.wa-afcc.net.

8:45 to 10:15 a.m. Plenary Session I
Child Development for Family Law Professionals
Mindy Mitnick, M.Ed.

An understanding of child development – from birth through adolescence – forms the backdrop to helping clients advocate for their children’s needs. We will look at psychological milestones in development and what parents can do to support positive growth in children. This presentation will also apply child development information to parenting plans and coparenting practices.

10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Plenary Session II
View from the Bench: Judicial Panel
Hon. Judge Anne Hirsch, Hon. Judge Jesse Reeves, Hon. Judge Deborah Fleck (ret.), and Hon. Comm. Jackie Jeske, panelists
Daniel Rybicki, Psy.D., and Stacy Heard, J.D., moderators

This session will include brief opening statements from each of the judicial officers regarding topics and trends and areas of emerging concern in Family Law practice as seen from the Bench. A series of questions and issues will begin the panel discussion as moderated by the team of psychologist and attorney moderators. The last segment of the session will be an open forum with questions raised by the audience for discussion.

12:00 to 1:15 p.m. Lunch

Join your colleagues for a buffet luncheon at the WAC or get lunch on your own. Buffet luncheon tickets are $35 for AFCC members and $45 for non-members.

1:15 to 2:45 p.m. Workshop Sessions A, B, C, D

A: Improving Your Interview Skills, Part I 
Mindy Mitnick, M.Ed.

All family law professionals work to establish and maintain rapport with clients, obtain needed information, and help them focus on the child’s best interests.  This presentation will provide a road map for interviewing clients productively.  We will look at strategies for obtaining reliable information, addressing resistance, and expressing appropriate empathy.

Learning Objectives  Attendees will be able to:

  • Use an outline for their interview with clients
  • Attend to client’s needs while obtaining needed information
  • Obtain reliable information from clients who are often in distress

B: Stop Reacting and Start Responding: Help for DV and Trauma Survivors
Hon. Anne Hirsch, Thurston County Superior Court, Olympia, WA, and  Janice Garceau, LCSW, Deschutes County Health Services, Bend, OR

Most family court cases, from 70% to as high as 90% in some jurisdictions, have at least one party without counsel, with financial considerations the overwhelming reason. Research indicates that self-represented litigants find the process intellectually confusing and emotionally taxing.

For survivors of domestic violence and other trauma, these barriers are magnified: a survivor is typically at a financial disadvantage, the presence of domestic violence often complicates the family court case, and in addition to the typical stress of a family court case, a survivor is often trying to manage trauma, both the survivor’s own and the children’s. Trauma’s effects can impair a survivor’s capacity to organize and present a court case, with potentially devastating effects on the family if the final outcome proves to be unsafe.

Use of a trauma-sensitive lens by all court and court-related practitioners will help survivors manage their trauma in a way that allows them to participate fully in court processes. This workshop will describe how a trauma-informed approach will help judges and other court practitioners conduct court and court-related proceedings and interactions with self-represented survivors in a way that enables them to manage their trauma and allows them to participate fully, pursue their cases effectively, and obtain outcomes that are safe and healthy for themselves and their children.

The workshop will also include information on interpersonal neurobiology and brain functioning and how it relates to trauma-informed court and court-related processes. Practical tools and resources for further guidance will also be provided. While the primary focus is on self-represented survivors, anyone who interacts with clients who have experienced trauma will also find the session helpful.

C: Considerations in Developing Parenting Plans for Special Needs Children: Focus on Autism Spectrum and ADHD
Christen Carson, Ph.D., ABPP and Tye Hunter, Ph.D., ABPP

The term “special needs children” is an umbrella designation that encompasses a wide array of children who have special needs due to serious medical illness, learning disabilities, a spectrum of neurocognitive impairments and other developmental disorders (such as autism spectrum disorder), physical disabilities, or severe psychiatric disturbance.

Separated and divorced families in which there is a child with special needs pose unique challenges for family law professionals. This is especially so for those who are tasked with developing plans that address the child’s best interests that are specific to the child’s developmental needs.

This workshop will offer general and specific tips for family law professionals who are helping these families develop appropriate parenting and child safety plans. It will will provide an overview of commonly seen special needs of non-typically developing children encountered in family court cases. It will also address issues that arise in formulating appropriate parenting plans based on non-typical developmental needs. Additional issues, such as the need to assess specific parenting factors and home environment, will also be discussed.

D: GAL and Parenting Evaluation Work Product Review: Expert Testimony and Quality Assurance
Daniel Rybicki, Psy.D. and Gary Wieder, Ph.D.

Work product reviews have become increasingly important in the family law and dependency court domains. Expert reviews can identify strengths and weaknesses in the methods employed by Guardians Ad Litem and Parenting Evaluators. Some of those reviews can facilitate settlement efforts while others can inform the Court of serious flaws in the investigation, analysis, and development of recommendations for parenting plans.

This workshop will make clear the professional standards and scientific criteria which guide the process of a work product review. Suggestions for how to buttress your evaluation will be offered along with examples of testimony and reporting of expert opinion based on a work product review. This workshop is intended for intermediate and advanced practitioners and attorneys working in the family law domain.

3:00 to 4:30 p.m. Workshop Sessions E, F, G, H

E: Improving Your Interview Skills, Part II
Mindy Mitnick, M.Ed., and Daniel Rybicki, Psy.D.

This is a continuation of Part I workshop. Attendees must complete part I in order to participate in Part II.This segment will include additional special focus on interviewing adults and children where allegations of domestic violence are part of the concerns with a special focus on the SAFeR approach to DV interviewing.

F: How Trauma Influences Family Law Litigation: Addressing the Needs of Children and Parents
Rebecca Stahl, J.D., and Jennifer Wheeler, PhD.

This presentation will focus on three parts. First, it will cover what trauma is and how we can better define it to understand our clients, particularly children. Second, it will cover how we, as professionals, must self-regulate to be more trauma informed in our practice. And third, it will discuss how to recognize trauma manifestations in our (child) clients and what to do about them when interacting with clients.

This is not a presentation about how to diagnose and treat. Its goal is to help all of us better interact with clients who have significant trauma in their lives. It will provide the practitioner with theory and practice to understand these issues on many levels. Finally, participants will leave with concrete tools to take with them back to the office and begin to implement immediately with clients.

While this presentation focuses on children specifically, the information can be extrapolated to everyone. Overall, it is designed to look at trauma from a holistic perspective, and one that helps explain why it can become overwhelming for so many people, including the professionals who work in the system.

G: Professional Risk Management in Dealing with Domestic Relations Cases 
Ramona Hunter, Esq. and Landon Poppleton, Ph.D., J.D.
Professionals involved in domestic relations cases are at heightened risk for complaints to state licensing boards and civil lawsuits alleging malpractice. The unique obligation to serve the best interests of minor children in cases of divorce or child custody often requires independent investigations of allegations between warring parents, professional evaluation of parenting abilities, and determination of the degree of bonding between children and each parent. In performing this work as an arm of the court, experts and other professionals may become targets of angry or dissatisfied litigants.

The risk of being investigated or personally sued is not limited to child custody evaluators, but extends to court-ordered therapeutic service providers, parenting coaches, GALs, and legal professionals. This 90-minute workshop is designed to help domestic relations professionals appreciate this occupational hazard, implement effective risk-management strategies, and understand the process for responding to and defending against allegations of unprofessional conduct.

H. Implications of Technology and Social Media for Domestic Violence and Family Court Cases
Matt Havrevold, BA, and Hon. Judge Sandy Karlan (ret)

The ever-changing world of technology is making electronic stalking more accessible, less expensive and more insidious. It is important for service providers and legal professionals to understand the practical dynamics of domestic violence, stalking and cyberstalking as it pertains to today’s mobile technology. Batterers continue to use tactics such as isolation and intimidation; however, technology provides new tools to raise these offenses to a more dangerous and sometimes lethal level.

This interactive workshop will explore the implications of technology in recent Domestic Violence, Dependency and Unified Family Court Division cases. Professionals will learn how batterers use phone technology, social networking, and GPS to circumvent injunctions for protection, supervised visitation and child custody. It will explore how survivors of domestic violence can overcome communication issues using mobile and online communication tools designed specifically for high conflict parents. We will also discuss relevant case law and the ethical concerns related to electronically stored information.

Practitioners will walk away more knowledgeable and capable of creating a safer, more transparent and accountable environment for parents in conflict.

Registration includes program materials, training and refreshments.

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.

Please make your own travel and lodging 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. 

* Continuing Education Credits

  • The Washington State Bar (WSBA) has approved the program for up to 6.0 hours of Continuing Legal Education (Activity ID: 1069162). 
  • This program has been approved for 6 hours of CEUs by the NASW Washington State Chapter. WA AFCC is an approved provider(#1975-312) for continuing education credits under the guidelines set forth by the NASW-WA chapter.
  • The 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. Up to 6.0 CE hours available.