Category: Parenting

The AFCC Works to Resolve Family Conflict

Association of Family and Conciliation Courts  pic
Association of Family and Conciliation Courts

Dr. Grace Graham is a licensed psychologist who provides professional counseling, evaluations, and consultations at Charis Counseling and Psychological Services in Plano, Texas. Dr. Grace Graham received her doctorate in clinical psychology from George Fox University in 1991 and is a member of several professional associations, including the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts.

The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) is made up of educators, researchers, lawyers, counselors, judges, policy makers, and more who are committed to the resolving conflict within families. The AFCC’s multidisciplinary membership collaborates through task forces and projects to help solve ongoing challenges and issues in the domestic arena. AFCC members have spearheaded initiatives such as divorce education, child custody mediation, and parenting coordination.

Another AFCC initiative, the Task Force on Guidelines for Examining Intimate Partner Violence, was approved in 2016. The task force was formed to produce guidelines to help those who conduct child custody evaluations.

Specifically, the group focused on formulating standards for the identification of intimate partner violence, as well as any effects the violence may have on the children and on parenting. AFCC was joined by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges in sponsoring the task force. The Battered Women’s Justice Project also consulted on the initiative.


Evaluating the Best Interests of the Child


Dr Grace Graham pic
Dr Grace Graham

Dr. Grace Graham, an experienced clinical psychologist, draws on experience in diagnosing and treating clients of all ages. Dedicated to supporting the well-being of children, Dr. Grace Graham serves as a consultant to determine the best interest of a child in contested divorce cases.

Courts across the United States use the best interests of the child as a guiding principle for determining custody arrangements. The phrase “best interests” itself has no universal definition or contributing factors, though courts typically take it to mean that situation which will place the child in the safest and most nurturing home situation.

In determining the best interests of the child, courts tend to favor those situations that will ensure the child receives sufficient clothing, shelter, food, and medical care. Courts also consider socio-emotional and psychological factors, such as the strength of the relationship that each parent has with the child. The mental health of each parent and that of the child also play significant roles, as does any potential history of domestic violence on the part of either potential custody recipient.

Strategies for Healthy Co-Parenting

Dr. Grace Graham, an independent clinical psychologist, has worked extensively with families affected by divorce. Experienced in conducting psychological evaluations for custody purposes, Dr. Grace Graham has also spoken in various venues on the importance of co-parenting for divorced couples.

The strategy of co-parenting requires a divorced couple to raise their children collaboratively. This can be a challenge for a couple whose interactions often cause contention and stress, but studies have shown that this approach creates the most consistency and stability for the children involved. For this reason alone, it is important for the divorcing couple to learn and implement best practices for co-parenting.

Experts have suggested that focusing solely on the children may be the most important factor in healthy co-parenting. When an issue arises, the couple should remain unemotional and calmly discuss resolutions that would be in the child’s best interest. Stability is also necessary in such a child-focused strategy, as children thrive when rules are consistently observed and when both parents agree on particular limits. And finally, both parents must avoid making negative comments about the other one, so that children maintain a positive image of each parent and can rely on them as healthy role models.

Tips for Handling Co-Parenting Issues

For more than two decades, Dr. Grace Graham has provided treatment for individuals and families facing a variety of emotional and psychological challenges. In her role as clinical psychologist at Charis Counseling and Psychological Services, Dr. Grace Graham addresses subjects such as co-parenting.

Co-parenting is a reality for many couples who separate or go through a divorce. Here are three tips for undertaking co-parenting with a former partner.

1. Learn to cooperate and communicate. Being polite to your co-parent is beneficial to the well-being of yourself and your children. If there is an issue that is bothering you, talk to your former partner about it. In general, you should set a regular time to chat about co-parenting matters, whether through email, on the phone, or in person.

2. Think about your co-parent’s strengths. Regularly tell your children about the areas in which their other parent excels, such as cooking or organizing. Your children will see that you recognize the positives in your co-parent and you will cultivate a more trusting relationship with them as a result.

3. Leave children out of conflict. Maintain a respectful environment when discussing your former partner around your children. Communicate with your partner directly instead of soliciting information from your children. Distancing your children from difficult situations will help sustain their happiness in the long run.