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 Domestic Dispute Resolution Triage Program, which also includes two key educational components: the divorce impact education class (“Parents Forever”), and the H.O.P.E. Program (Healthy Opportunities for Parenting Effectively).

The Domestic Dispute Resolution Triage Program

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

The Community Mediation Center (CMC) administers the Triage Program. Here’s how the program works, and what you may be required to do.

Divorce Impact Education

Most newly-separating or divorcing parents are required by Kansas Law to attend a divorce impact education class, and in the 9th Judicial District that class (“Parents Forever”) is offered through CMC.  This two-hour class focuses on the impact of divorce/separation on your child(ren) and on you as a co-parent. You have sixty (60) days from the date of the court order to attend the class. You may also attend this class voluntarily and it is open to ALL separating or divorcing parents no matter where you live.

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.

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 with video on throughout the entire class, you will NOT receive credit for the class.

Domestic 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), and provide your completed materials to CMC.
  2. Provide recent pay stubs or other proof of income since fees for dispute resolution services are based on individual 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 dispute resolution service. Assessments are scheduled in both Harvey and McPherson counties.  Assessment Interviews are normally done individually, by telephone, and take about an hour.  Once the Assessment process is complete, CMC will notify you, the court, and your attorney (if you have one) which dispute resolution service is recommended for your case, how to contact the specialist who will be working with you, and notice of the required service fee.

All dispute resolution 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 problem solving process. The goal is to help parents make their own decisions and develop parenting plans that work best for their child(ren). The mediator has no authority to require agreement to any particular outcome.  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 more co-parent 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 to try to negotiate terms you can both agree on. If you and the other parent don’t reach agreement, the case manager must investigate and make written recommendations to the court regarding what resolution is in the best interests of the children involved.

Brief Focused Assessment (BFA): Cases referred to BFA involve significantly more co-parenting conflict and complexity of issues. This also is NOT a confidential process, and parents do not meet face-to-face. Rather, the assessor will conduct an investigation through interviews and by gathering information, then make written recommendations to the court regarding what resolution is in the best interests of the child(ren) involved.

How long will the dispute resolution process take?

It depends… on the complexity of issues, the calendars of everyone involved (including the Dispute Resolution 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 shortly thereafter (assuming all documentation has been provided by both parents). Once the court approves our recommendation, your dispute resolution 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

Healthy Opportunities for Parenting Effectively (H.O.P.E.) was developed for parents who are no longer together but still experience a high level of conflict that detrimentally affects their co-parenting and their children.  The primary goal is to reduce the trauma your child(ren) may experience as a result of your separation/divorce by helping you learn skills that can lead to more effective co-parenting.  Program outcomes include:

  • Understanding your child’s right/need to love both parents
  • Focusing on your child’s needs instead of on parental conflict
  • Developing effective communication skills
  • Maximizing problem-solving skills to minimize co-parenting conflict
  • Managing emotions and creating healthy boundaries between co-parents
  • Rebuilding co-parent trust and respect

All H.O.P.E. sessions are offered live online (via Zoom).  Each H.O.P.E. session consists of five virtual classes that include small group discussions and out-of-class homework assignments including video presentations from judges, social workers, and other specialists, plus opportunities to practice new skills.  While CMC staff can make recommendations for who should attend HOPE, the Judge in your case makes the final decision. You may, of course, choose to attend voluntarily.

The program will be offered in three sessions during 2023:

  • Spring Session: March 6 & 20, April 3 & 17, May 1
  • Summer Session: June 5 & 19, July 10 & 31, August 21
  • Fall Session: Sept. 18, Oct. 2 & 16, Nov. 6 & 20

You must attend all five classes within a given session in order to receive credit for successfully completing the program.

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: Fees follow a sliding scale approved by the court, and are based on individual annual gross income (see fee scale).