Erin Schaden, Herring Law Group’s Executive Director, recently attended the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts’ (AFCCnet.org) Conference in Washington, DC. HLG is a member of the AFCC, which is the “interdisciplinary, international association of professionals dedicated to improving the lives of children and families through the resolution of family conflict.” It focuses on “serving the needs of children among those who work in and with family law systems, encouraging education, research and innovation and identifying best practices.” While the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (aaml.org) and the International Academy of Family Lawyers (iafl.com), in which HLG is deeply involved, focus on all manner of family law concerns, the AFCC narrowly focuses on children, custody and parenting. The Conference’s presenters included many of the nationally-prominent mental health and parenting/custody professionals with whom HLG regularly works. Through Erin, we dove deeper into a variety of developing issues and concepts, particularly centering on family law cases involving personality disorders. Insights gained include ways to better identify the 5 main types of disorders, indicate options for treatment and manage related case issues. Certainly “narcissism” seems to HLG to be the “disorder of the moment,” based on increased client awareness the past year or so! With Erin’s input, we are continuing to develop strategies for identifying and better handling all these situations. At the Conference, Erin’s other areas of focus included:
- Assessment and intervention in custody resist/refuse cases (commonly involving allegations of “parental alienation”);
- The use of various family law apps, including toward preserving evidence and de-escalating family conflicts (2 different types of apps!);
- Co-parenting issues and strategies;
- Childhood trauma and resiliency in custody cases;
- The legal limits of testimony by custody evaluators and other mental health experts (something HLG regularly asserts);
- Substance abuse challenges, and
- Co-parenting counseling and Parenting Coordination – which to use and when?
It was an informative week in DC, providing us updates regarding how personality disorders, trauma and substance abuse affect and, especially if ignored, tend to direct family law cases. On the positive side, it also emphasized revised strategies for handling the challenges. HLG remains a strong supporter of the AFCC. We thank Erin for her enthusiastic participation!