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Divorcing/Separating Parents

Divorcing/Separating Parents

The Community Mediation Center (CMC) coordinates dispute resolution services for divorcing/separating parents who have cases filed in Harvey and McPherson counties. All services are provided under the umbrella of the innovative Dispute Resolution Triage Program, which also includes two key educational components: the divorce impact education (“Parents Forever”) class, and the HOPE Program.

The Dispute Resolution Triage Program

If you are a divorcing/separating parent and your case is filed in Harvey or McPherson county, you may be required to participate in the Dispute Resolution Triage Program. Click here to view the program brochure for more information.

The Community Mediation Center (CMC) administers the Triage Program. We have prepared this page to help explain how the program works, and what you may be required to do.

Divorce Impact Education

Most newly-separating or divorcing parents are required to attend CMC’s divorce impact education class (“Parents Forever”). This two-hour class focuses on the impact of divorce/separation on your family, yourself and your child(ren). You have sixty (60) days from the date of the court order to attend the class. This course is offered online via Zoom, and requires a code to participate.

Register HERE to receive the code and other class materials via email. The registration deadline for each of the classes is noon of the day before the class.

You may also attend this class voluntarily and it is open to all separating or divorcing parents no matter where you live.

Divorce Impact Education Class Schedule

2nd Thursday of every month
5:15 – 7:15 PM
Registration deadline is noon on Wednesday, the day before the class.

4th Tuesday of every month
5:15 – 7:15 PM
Registration deadline is noon on Monday, the day before the class.

The Zoom link will be monitored by the instructor beginning at 4:45 PM to allow you plenty of time to test and assure your connection. Note that if you do not maintain two-way connectivity throughout the entire class, you will NOT receive credit for the class.

Dispute Resolution Assessment

If you and the other parent cannot resolve parenting issues on your own, the Judge will direct you to contact CMC to begin the Dispute Resolution (DR) Assessment process.

You have seven (7) days from the date of the court order to call CMC to begin the process, which includes the following:

  1. Take a self-directed, free, online educational course for divorcing or separating parents (www.uptoparents.org), print out your completed materials and provide them to CMC.
  2. Provide recent pay stubs or other proof of income since fees for DR services are based on annual gross income.
  3. Participate in a confidential assessment interview. This assessment assists CMC in identifying the level of conflict and complexity of issues so we can match your family situation with the appropriate DR service. Assessments are scheduled in both Harvey and McPherson counties and take about an hour. Co-parents are assessed at the same time, unless safety or other factors require separate interviews. Once the assessment is complete, CMC will notify you, the court, and your attorney (if you have one) which DR service is recommended for your case. You will be given a schedule for your initial meetings and notice of the required service fee.

All DR services are provided by CMC’s panel of specially-trained DR professionals, and include:

Mediation: In mediation, you and the other parent meet face-to-face with an impartial individual who guides you through a confidential and non-coercive process. The goal is to help parents make their own decisions and develop parenting plans that work best for their child(ren). Mediated agreements are then filed with the court. If there is no agreement, CMC will review the case and recommend another DR service (see below).

Limited Case Management (LCM): Cases referred to LCM often involve higher conflict and/or more complex issues than those sent to mediation. LCM is NOT a confidential process, although you and the other parent may still meet face-to-face to work with your service provider in ways similar to mediation. Unlike mediation, if you and the other parent don’t reach agreement, the case manager must make a recommendation to the court.

Brief Focused Assessment (BFA): Cases referred to BFA involve significantly more conflict and complexity. This is NOT a confidential process and parents do not meet face-to-face. Rather, the assessor will conduct interviews and gather information, then make recommendations to the court.

How long will the dispute resolution process take?

It depends… on the complexity of issues, the calendars of everyone involved (including the DR Specialist), and also the responsiveness of you and your co-parent. In general, CMC tries to conduct assessment interviews within two weeks of the initial contact, and usually is able to issue a recommendation to the court a few days later. Once the court approves our recommendation, your DR service should begin within a few weeks. It will take a minimum of 8-12 weeks for your service to be completed, but remember that more complex cases will require more time.

In any event, please remember that these are court-ordered services and you may need to alter your work and/or personal schedule to complete the process in a timely manner.

The H.O.P.E. Program

H.O.P.E. stands for Healthy Opportunities for Parenting Effectively. The program educates parents on ways they can improve their co-parenting skills while keeping a focus on their child(ren)’s needs. Each HOPE session consists of five virtual classes (via Zoom) as well as out-of-class homework assignments. Sessions are offered in the Spring, Summer and Fall.

Community Mediation Center staff can make recommendations for who should attend HOPE, however, the Judge in your case makes the final decision. Your dispute resolution service provider may also recommend that you and your co-parent attend HOPE. You may also choose to attend voluntarily.

For information on Spring, Summer or Fall Sessions, and to register for a session, visit this page.

How much will this cost me?

Divorce Impact Education class: $125 per person
CMC Assessment Interview: $85 per person
H.O.P.E. session: $250 per person if paid in full before the first class, or $50 per class if you choose to “pay as you go.”
DR Services: Sliding scale approved by the court, based on annual gross income (see scale)