Earlier this week it was a privilege for the firm's family law team to host an event with Shared Parenting Scotland as the organisation launched the evaluation of their pilot scheme, New Ways For Families®. Also in attendance were Bill Eddy and Megan Hunter of the High Conflict Institute giving invaluable insight to all attendees as to how the course was developed, and the international success it has experienced so far.
New Ways For Families® is a course which incorporates interactive, online elements with three one-to-one coaching sessions with coaches who are experienced family professionals. The course focuses on four key skills that can really help separating parents control their own part in high conflict:
- Managing emotions.
- Moderating behaviour.
- Developing flexible thinking.
- Checking yourself
Shared Parenting Scotland worked with the High Conflict Institute to bring this scheme to Scotland. A pilot scheme ran with separated parents in Scotland in 2022-23. Ten Scottish coaches (including myself) were recruited and 31 parents undertook the training and completed additional surveys before and after the course as part of the evaluation. The feedback from those involved was really positive as they found the skills they learnt invaluable in effectively communicating in situations of high conflict.
Dr Jeff Chang of Athabasca University in Canada concluded in his evaluation: “New Ways for Families®, delivered on-line with the support of trained and committed coaches, is a valuable option in a continuum of services for parents embroiled in high-conflict separations. Learners, as a group, reported better parenting performance, likely the result of improved confidence after learning key skills.”
Following the evaluation of the scheme at our Glasgow office, I then attended a reception at the Scottish Parliament where Fulton MacGregor, MSP for Coatbridge & Chryston and Convener of the Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group on Shared Parenting welcomed and led a discussion regarding the scheme. Matters were then handed over to Siobhian Brown MSP, Minister for Victims and Community Safety, who expressed her continued support for the scheme and for separated families in Scotland in general - along with the continued hard work of Shared Parenting. This meeting was very well attended by a range of individuals - from solicitors, to advocates, to those involved in charities who work with separated families. A number of individuals who were involved in the pilot scheme also attended and spoke highly of the skills they had developed through the scheme, and were grateful to Shared Parenting for bringing it to Scotland.
New Ways For Families® is widely viewed as being an invaluable tool for parents to use and avoid conflict, and therefore, hopefully, reduces the overall need for parties to litigate matters in relation to their children. In addition to this, in working to ensure parents can communicate effectively and safely, it removes the need for such communications to take place through solicitors, and instead helps parents to co-parent positively throughout their children's lives.