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AFCC – Special Webinar Series on Parent-Child Contact Problems (Online)

The Family Court Review April 2020 Special Issue on Parent?Child Contact Problems: Concepts, Controversies, & Conundrums is now available online! Please note that because of interruptions to print operations at Wiley, the publisher of Family Court Review, distribution of the hard copy of this issue will be delayed.

Due to the cancellation of the AFCC 57th Annual Conference, a Special Webinar Series on Parent-Child Contact Problems will be presented from May 12- July 7, 2020.

What you should know:

  • There are sixteen webinars in the series, scheduled from May 12th – July 7th. Participants must register for each webinar individually. View the full schedule and make plans to attend! View AFCC Webinar Schedule
  • Registration is limited to 500 attendees for each webinar, so sign up early! You can register now on the AFCC website.
  • Each webinar is 90 minutes long and is eligible for up to 1.5 hours of continuing education for psychologists.*
  • The registration fee includes a certificate of attendance. You must attend the live webinar to receive a certificate of attendance. Members: $15 | Non-members: $50
  • Members who attend all sixteen webinars could receive 24 hours of continuing education credit for just $240, $560 less than the non-member price! Join AFCC to save on continuing education. JOIN AFCC
  • Recorded webinars will be available online for AFCC members.
  • This webinar series is sponsored by

Sign Up – AFCC Webinars

* AFCC is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. AFCC maintains responsibility for the program and its content. Lawyers, judges, social workers, counselors, and other professionals seeking continuing education credits may use the AFCC Certificate of Attendance to verify attendance when applying to their state, provincial, or other regulatory or licensing agency.


High Risk Indicators for Intimate Partner Homicide

by?Shena Kitt, InVEST Program Coordinator? and Cynthia Rubenstein, MS, LMHC, CCR Specialist Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Navigating criminal justice, legal and social services systems can be a daunting task for survivors of intimate partner violence. However, certified domestic violence centers, social service providers, and legal, criminal justice and other allied community partners can assist survivors in finding safety and justice through the implementation of proactive strategies that hold perpetrators accountable for their violence. A coordinated community response, such as the Intimate Partner Violence Services Team (InVEST), emphasizes perpetrator responsibility through enhanced criminal justice response and increased support services available to survivors.

InVEST began in Jacksonville, Florida, as a partnership between the local certified domestic violence center, Hubbard House, Jacksonville Sheriff?s Office and the City of Jacksonville. Between 2006 and 2009, the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Office of the Attorney General identified 11 Florida counties with the highest rates of domestic violence homicide to provide funding for the expansion of InVEST in those communities. Since that time, InVEST partnerships have implemented batterer accountability measures and provided enhanced advocacy for more than 3,000 survivors per year who are identified at high risk of being murdered by their intimate partner. Since the program?s inception, there have not been any homicides of InVEST participants. This is particularly notable since InVEST participants enter the program based on their experience of evidence-based, high risk behaviors perpetrated against them by their partner or ex-partner.

Despite programs such as InVEST, domestic violence homicides continue to occur in alarming numbers in Florida. The Annual Uniform Crime Report (UCR) statistics released in May 2018 by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) reflected a 9.5 percent decrease in domestic violence murders in 2017 from the previous year. However, domestic violence manslaughter deaths increased by 28.6 percent during the same time period. There were a total of 180 domestic violence-related homicides in Florida in 2017.1

It is essential that communities engaged in the work to end domestic violence are familiar with batterer behaviors that have been identified as high-risk indicators for the escalation of violence and lethality. Examples of these indicators include:2

  • Perpetrator has a prior history of domestic violence
  • Perpetrator controls all/most of their partner?s daily activities
  • Perpetrator exhibits extreme and/or violent jealousy toward their partner
  • Perpetrator attempts to strangle their partner
  • Perpetrator is stalking, making threats, destroying partner?s property
  • Perpetrator owns a firearm or has access to weapons

2 Campbell, J. C., Webster, D., Koziol-McLain, J., Block, C., Campbell, D., Curry, M. A., Laughon, K. (2003). Risk Factors for Femicide in Abusive Relationships: Results From a Multisite Case Control Study. American Journal of Public Health, 93(7), 1089?1097.

  • Perpetrator has sexually assaulted their partner or forced sex in the past
  • Perpetrator is living in a home with their partner?s children who have a biological parent other than the perpetrator

Survivors are often the most aware of the danger the perpetrator presents to their safety. They experience the threats and violence first hand and understand the perpetrator?s capacity for escalation. Survivors who express that their partner will kill them need to be believed and validated. The fear of ongoing violence and death often contributes to why survivors stay in the abusive relationship.

A perpetrator?s violence does not simply end when the survivor leaves the relationship, but is instead likely to escalate.3 Leaving or preparing to leave the relationship can be most dangerous time for a survivor of intimate partner violence. A survivor may only leave when she believes the circumstances are safe to do so or because she believes she will be killed if she stays. Additionally, survivors often stay to protect their children since abusive partners are frequently granted joint custody of children in common when the couple separates. When this occurs, children may be at an increased risk of harm since they spend time with the perpetrator without the survivor there to protect them.

Florida?s 42 certified domestic violence centers provide free and confidential services to survivors of domestic violence, including supportive counseling, advocacy, emergency shelter, access to a 24-hour crisis hotline, safety planning, information, and referrals. The Florida Domestic Violence Hotline connects survivors, their friends, family members and community partners to the certified domestic violence centers in their area. The Florida Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached at 1-800-500-1119 (TDD 1-800-622-4202/ Florida Relay 711). In addition, attorneys are available on the Florida Legal Hotline to answer survivors? legal questions regarding injunctions for protection, divorce, custody, housing, immigration and other legal matters at no cost. The Legal Hotline may be reached through prompt three on the statewide hotline. Interpreter services are available for survivors with limited English proficiency on both hotlines.

Please visit or contact for additional information on high- risk indicators, or to request training for your organization.

3?United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Crime Victimization Survey, 2015.

Eldercaring Initiative Elders Newsletter


United Nations Presentation in Honor of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day: Focusing on Advancing Autonomy for Older Persons and Preventing Abuse and Neglect

?by Linda Fieldstone, M.Ed., Judge Michelle Morley, Sue Bronson, LCSW

It was an enormous honor to be at the United Nations for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day to talk about eldercaring coordination, a conflict resolution process developed specifically to protect the autonomy and safety of ageing persons. Thank you to the International Federation on Ageing, and the reminder it gives us to raise our collective consciousness about the treatment of our ageing, and to all of you for your work in that direction.

Let your mind wander off for a minute, to the warm and aromatic kitchen of an ageing person who is surrounded by loving family members, all focused on the ageing person?s care, safety and well-being. It?s a Sunday afternoon, and the family has come for a visit. While growing older has its challenges, this parent or grandparent?s ageing process is an inspiration, a source of joy for the family, celebrating the life of their ageing loved one and the many happy occasions shared throughout the years together.

Now imagine, instead, if you were an ageing person losing independence, feeling scared, sad and alone, perhaps confused and isolated from loved ones. Instead of at your kitchen table, your grandchildren are home alone while family members are seated opposite one another in a courtroom to argue over your care. The tables between them have become battlegrounds for revenge, blame and ridicule. For some families, overseeing a loved one?s transitions through ageing can be a painful reminder of the past. They remember the tumultuous ways in which they have dealt with disagreement and become consumed by disappointment, anger and loss. Instead of being supportive during the ageing person?s transition, their personal positions over-ride their ageing loved one?s needs and safety. Now, the family members only see each other when they go to court, urging their lawyers to degrade and belittle one another. Strategic litigation tactics heighten the hostility between them as the ageing person fades dramatically into the background, whispering, ?I just want my family to get along!?

Eldercaring Coordination is a solution – for the ageing person?s anguish and the family?s aggressive actions. Eldercaring Coordination is a compassionate, court-alternative response to family conflict, one that engenders respect and protection for the ageing person. This court ordered dispute resolution option focuses on reducing family conflict and minimizing risks and abuse to respect and preserve the dignity and quality of life of ageing persons. To do that, the ageing person?s voice must be at the center of conversation, yet all the voices of concerned family members must be heard.

How can that happen? A high conflict family dispute resolution specialist called an Eldercaring Coordinator helps families refocus on the ageing person, set their disagreements aside peacefully, and elevate the ageing person?s needs and preferences. Families are referred to eldercaring coordination in a court proceeding, once family conflict is identified by the court, or upon the request of the ageing person, family, attorney or guardian. They can be recognized by their frequent motions to the court regarding non-legal issues, cross allegations and unsubstantiated claims, safety concerns, and withholding of information, money, time and affection of the ageing person. The court orders who participates in eldercaring coordination: the elder, legally authorized decision-makers, and others by invitation. Why does it take a court order when we want to enable the family to resolve disputes out of court? Because all too often family members in conflict refuse to meet together unless they are court ordered to do so.

The eldercaring coordinator enables family members to develop more effective communication and problem-solving skills, and to develop and implement a care plan that is flexible according to the transitions of the ageing person. As the needs of the ageing person change, the family returns to the eldercaring coordinator, rather than reverting to the gavel of a judge for decision-making on non-legal issues.

Family conflict regarding ageing persons is an issue without borders, a global issue, unattached to economic, racial, religious, ethnic or national boundaries. Worldwide, our ageing population is growing exponentially as people are living longer. Where ageism exists, the mistreatment of ageing persons perpetuates the potential for adverse effects on their families. Family conflict involving ageing persons is not just a social problem, it is a medical problem, with health implications. The effects of conflict on this vulnerable population is a societal issue, involving not only the quality of life, but the length of life of our oldest population. Research shows the many ways that an ageing person?s health is compromised when caregivers are overburdened, treatment is delayed, decisions are obstructed, and their safety is jeopardized by family conflict. And it doesn?t stop there? The cumulative effects of prior and current generational conflict are harmful, resulting in lack of social capitol and accrued interpersonal skill deficits. So, even the youngest generations benefit through eldercaring coordination, as it reduces the tension of their parents, heals ruptures in family relationships, and provides a dignified model of conflict resolution for them to integrate. Recognizing that high conflict in families is a health issue for ageing persons, United States StayWell Medicare/Medicaid health plan provider has contributed to provide scholarship funds for eldercaring coordination in Florida. ?Eldercaring coordination is based on the idea that with open communication and effective planning, family members can come to the best resolution to resolve disputes,? said Elizabeth Miller, president of Staywell Health Plan. ?Ongoing conflict can put undue stress on a family and delay needed medical treatment and therapies, adversely impacting the health of elders and their children.? When we help our ageing loved ones, we are helping our children as well.

Therefore, it is unconscionable that our attention to the abuse of ageing persons lags twenty years behind our focus on child abuse. The World Health Organization estimates that one of every six people 60 or older will suffer some form of abuse, with only 1 in 24 incidents reported, even though spouses and adult children are the most likely perpetrators. We all have family secrets and in older families the members have even more time to become experts at keeping them hidden. The root of some secrets can lie deep, sometimes covered protectively by fear, and sometimes covered by shame, intimidation and coercion. An accusation based on assumptions and conclusions from limited information can be difficult to discern from actual hidden abuse. Ongoing exploitation may not be admitted even when confronted. Uncovering the truth becomes even more complicated in high conflict situations as harsh feelings, misperceptions and baseless conclusions cloud and conceal the reality behind family secrets.

Eldercaring coordination becomes the key to unlocking these mysteries and safeguarding the elder from conflict, threats of harm and risky situations. Eldercaring Coordinators use a trauma- informed, person-centered approach so they are better able to guide families through a supported decision-making process that protects the health, safety and well-being of their ageing loved one. The eldercaring coordinator is trained extensively and experienced with how abuse may be minimized, rationalized, and kept a secret. Since Eldercaring Coordinators are court ordered to work with families for up to two years, it gives them time to develop relationship and hear the concerns of each person participating. They provide ongoing screening and are sensitive to hints of abuse, neglect and exploitation through unfolding conversations. When risks are present, Eldercaring Coordinators help families distinguish drama caused by vendettas from what is credible, so family members can provide the right response to protect their ageing loved one. Eldercaring Coordinator is there to complement, not replace, services and can help the family develop a support system, connect them with available resources as needed, and notify appropriate authorities when warranted.

How was eldercaring coordination developed? In 2013, the Association for Conflict Resolution convened twenty well respected United States and Canadian organizations, who worked with the twenty statewide organizations assembled by the Florida Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts. The Association for Conflict Resolution Guidelines for Eldercaring Coordination were unanimously approved the next year by those organizations, who recognized that it is time to protect our elders by engaging their families in the process of their care. There are currently six states in the United States with Pilot Sites for eldercaring coordination, and others interested in the United States as well as Canada and as far away as Australia. The eldercaring coordination process is being researched by Dr. Pamela Teaster, Director of the Center for Gerontology, and Dr. Megan Dolbin-MacNab, Director of the Doctoral Program of Marriage and Family Therapy, both at Virginia Tech University. Their studies are informing best practices in eldercaring coordination as it develops. The Elder Justice Initiative on Eldercaring Coordination provides the framework needed to foster the development of eldercaring coordination across the globe, with continuous support, including standardized procedures, forms and training. The Initiative is ready to include your communities to the growing number providing access to this unique conflict resolution process and help you bring eldercaring coordination to ageing persons and their families in in your communities.
The benefits for eldercaring coordination is a distinct contrast to the cost of ongoing litigation and court fees:

  • Time, money and health are saved as conflict is reduced within the privacy of the eldercaring coordination process, outside of court;
  • Instead of incurring court related fees individually, including each expert testifying for each party in the court case, the fee of one Eldercaring Coordinator is shared by those participating in the process or, in some areas, scholarships may be offered;
  • At times, the humiliation of an ageing person being legally labeled ?incapacitated? is completely avoided when family members are able to step in and work together;
  • The ageing person and family can respond to issues quickly, without having to wait for open court dockets to address emotional, non-legal issues in
  • Risks and safety issues are identified so the ageing person can be protected from harm and vulnerabilities
  • Best of all, families become better role models for their next generations when they are able to resolve disputes and engage in supported decision-making, respecting the need for safety and autonomy of their ageing loved

Even the youngest generations benefit through eldercaring coordination, as it reduces the tension of their parents, heals ruptures in family relationships, and provides a dignified model of conflict resolution for them to integrate.

Think of how you would want the story to unfold if it was your parent, grandparent OR YOU in the middle of family turmoil. Do you want to spend the last chapter amidst the downpour of flying accusations and heated arguments? A situation ripe for abuse and exploitation. Or would you prefer to have comforting time with family members collaborating to meet your needs and keep you safe? Remember what parents want most?. for the family to all get along! Eldercaring coordination honors that ageing person?s wish by giving their family the tools and support needed to create a legacy their ageing loved one can feel proud of continuing for generations ? a legacy of peace in the family.
For more information check out the?Eldercaring Initiative Page?or contact the Elder Justice Initiative on Eldercaring Coordination Co-Chairs:

Linda Fieldstone, M.Ed. |?Tel.: 305-206-8445 |?

Sue Bronson, LCSW |?Tel.: 414-841-8889 |?

Judge Michelle Morley |?Tel.: 352-569-6960 |?

Eldercaring Initiative Elders Newsletter

Background of Eldercaring Coordination Initiative

By Linda Fieldstone, M.Ed. and Judge Michelle Morley


Five and a half years ago I reached out to your President Judge (Ret.) Sandy Karlan with an idea, which she permitted me to pitch to the FLAFCC Board after the annual membership meeting. With her support, the Board approved the creation of a Task Force to explore the possibility of creating a conflict resolution process for families struggling regarding the care and safety of an aging parent. My years at Family Court Services of the 11th Judicial Circuit had surely taught me that families do not age out of conflict, and it was disheartening that options for families with minor age children were not available for families as they grew older to help with discordant situations regarding an aging loved one.

Judge Michelle Morley was designated as my Co-Chair of the FLAFCC Task Force on Eldercaring Coordination We convened twenty statewide entities plus a well-credentialed Advisory Committee.? Together we collaborated with the Association for Conflict Resolution Task Force on Eldercaring Coordination, comprised of twenty U.S. and Canadian organizations to develop Guidelines for Eldercaring Coordination. Eldercaring Coordination was premised upon parenting coordination, a dispute resolution process for parents in high conflict regarding child-related issues.

In 2015, the Task Forces merged into the Elder Justice Initiative on Eldercaring Coordination. Florida initiated eight Circuits as Pilot Sites, and they have been serving to pave the way for easily replicable pilot sites throughout the U.S., in Canada and abroad. Thanks to FLAFCC, Florida is serving as a model for a more compassionate and more effective resolution alternative for elders and their families in conflict, and even more important, we are helping to redefine the operational definition of ?family? to include the multi-generations that can better support and improve the lives of even the youngest members of the family. Imagine a world where all children were able to model respectful and collaborative problem-solving and approach others in their communities with respect and tolerance! FLAFCC is a leader toward that path.

In this issue of your FLAFCC Newsletter we hope you read:

We also hope that you check out the website. We look forward to your feedback.

The Eldercaring Coordination Initiative has been fortunate to have the support of Judge Sandy Karlan and all of your presidents since:? Jack Mooring, Robert Merlin, Rose Patterson, Jill Sanders and Debra Weaver, as well as your Board of Directors. We want to acknowledge you and FLAFCC membership for your confidence, your assistance and your ongoing encouragement. Together we can improve the lives of Florida families, young and old!


FLAFCC Eldercaring Coordination Initiative Co-Chairs:

Linda Fieldstone, M.Ed., was President of FLAFCC in 2005 and AFCC in 2011-2015, and Co-Chair with Sue Bronson of the Association for Conflict Resolution Task Force on Eldercaring Coordination.

Linda Fieldstone -? ??

?Judge Michelle Morley was an FLAFCC Board Member from 2008 through 2017 and in 2016 was appointed by Chief Justice Labarga to serve as both a Stakeholder and a Steering Committee Member of Florida?s W.I.N.G.S. Project as well as the Judicial Management Committee?s Guardianship Workgroup.

Judge Michelle Morley -??

Eldercaring Initiative Elders Newsletter



Eldercaring Coordination

by Judge Michelle Morley ? 5th Judicial Circuit

Less than three years after the eight Florida Eldercaring Coordination Pilot Project Sites first launched, eldercaring coordination has now been recognized by the United Nations. On June 14, 2018, Linda Fieldstone and I, the co-chairs of the Florida Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Eldercaring Coordination Initiative, presented on eldercaring coordination with Sue Bronson, co-chair of the Association for Conflict Resolution Elder Justice Initiative, at a program sponsored by the NGO Committee on Ageing and the International Network for Prevention of Elder Abuse. It was attended by representatives from the U. N. Missions who are members of the Group of Friends of Older Persons.? Eldercaring coordination was one of only two programs presented at the U. N. on behalf of North America.

There has been much discussion regarding eldercaring coordination and other guardianship issues becoming part of family divisions instead of probate divisions in order to avoid possible duplication of services, resources, and time from parties in the court. Eldercaring coordination is an alternative dispute resolution process that is intended to assist families driven by conflict over the care and future of an aging loved one. Modeled after parenting coordination, eldercaring coordination complements and works collaboratively with other professional services. Families are referred to eldercaring coordination by courts from guardianship, mental health, and adult protective services cases. Courts identify appropriate cases based on the following factors:

  • competing petitions to be appointed as guardian; or
  • inflammatory allegations demeaning other family members; or
  • failure to resolve issues in mediation, or
  • repeated and frequent motions raising ?emergency? matters; or
  • family members with a win/lose mentality; or
  • imbalances of power ? sometimes because of financial abilities, and sometimes because of the formation of alliances between family members; or
  • other similar indicators of high conflict within the family.

Eldercaring Coordinators (ECs) are trained and qualified to work with family members and help them to let go of their differences, build commonalities, and focus their energy on the needs and welfare of their elder. Eldercaring coordination manages family dynamics, provides a support system as the elder transitions to distinct levels of care, addresses risks, and promotes safety of the elder, including monitoring situations where caregivers may be over-extended. Eldercaring coordination fosters self-determination of the aging loved one for as long as possible. The EC is appointed for a period of time up to two years so that the family can return to eldercaring coordination instead of court if new issues arise.

Fees for eldercaring coordination vary.? The ECs set their own fees just like any other professionals. The Eldercaring Coordination Pilot Project Site Administrator works to best match a family to an EC who is the most accessible, affordable, culturally appropriate, and best-suited to the issues the family brings to the table. The judge referring the family to eldercaring coordination will allocate the EC?s fees among the parties. StayWell, the managing entity for Medicaid and Medicare in Florida and many other states, has bestowed a grant of $1,000 per pilot project site in recognition of family conflict being a healthcare issue for aging persons. StayWell hopes that its grant will enable more families to use the eldercaring coordination process to address family conflict. Beginning in 2019, StayWell members in Florida may also apply their coverage to the cost of eldercaring coordination when recommended by their care managers. This is a landmark.

The American Arbitration Association Foundation has provided a grant to supplement the cost for training ECs. At least one training for ECs is being planned for the fall as Maryland is piloting a new site, and Ohio and Idaho are expanding their pilot sites. Toronto, Ontario, and Orange County, California are also hoping to launch new Eldercaring Coordination Pilot Project Sites soon, too. The feedback that has been received on this groundbreaking approach to conflict in families caring for elders has all been positive.? In one case, the presiding judge remarked that it saved the life of an elder whose care was in abeyance until the EC helped the family develop a care plan. In another case, the elder remarked that this was the best Father?s Day he ever had because eldercaring coordination enabled family members, who had been blocked from visiting, to finally have access to him. The EC works with the family to develop better communication and negotiating skills so that the court does not have to micromanage the elder?s care. The judges who have referred cases to eldercaring coordination notice a marked reduction in the number if not a total elimination of contested hearings in those cases.
The following Florida jurisdictions are currently participating in the Eldercaring Coordination Pilot Project:

  • 5th Judicial Circuit (Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Marion, and Sumter Counties)
  • 7th Judicial Circuit (Volusia, Flagler, St. Johns, and Putnam Counties)
  • 9th Judicial Circuit (Orange and Osceola Counties)
  • 12th Judicial Circuit (Manatee and Sarasota Counties)
  • 13th Judicial Circuit (Hillsborough County)
  • 15th Judicial Circuit (Palm Beach County)
  • 17th Judicial Circuit (Broward County)
  • 18th Judicial Circuit (Seminole and Brevard Counties).

If you are not in a pilot site circuit but are interested in bringing eldercaring coordination to your circuit, contact Linda Fieldstone ( or Michelle Morley ( for more information. The process is simple.? You will receive assistance in identifying people already in your Circuit who can be trained to become Eldercaring Coordinators.? All the forms you will need to refer cases have been drafted in a template and will be made available for your use. You will receive preliminary training in identifying and referring cases, and an invitation to monthly meetings as well as continuous support available whenever you need it.

Those at the U.N. presentation understood the urgency of responding to elders and their loved ones in the throes of conflict, and its influence on all of the family members when asked to: ?Think of how you would want the story to unfold if it was your parent OR YOU in the middle of family turmoil when you are old, losing capacity, and afraid. Do you want to spend the last chapter amidst the downpour of flying accusations and heated arguments? A situation ripe for abuse and exploitation. Or would you prefer to have comforting time with family members collaborating to meet your needs and keeping you safe?? Remember what parents want most?.for the family to all get along. Eldercaring coordination honors that aging person?s wish by giving their family the tools and support needed to create a legacy their aging loved one can feel proud of continuing for generations ? a legacy of peace in the family.?

Click here to view the U. N. presentation. For more information on eldercaring coordination, click here and here.