Volume 11, Issue 2
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the articles published or referred to in the COAFCC newsletter are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts or the Colorado Chapter of AFCC.  Additionally, the products and services advertised in this publication are not endorsed by either the AFCC or the COAFCC.

A Word from the COAFCC President

Rebecca Pepin
It is not without a little trepidation that I enter this role as president of COAFCC.  I follow strong amazing people who have had a wealth of information and organizational skills at their fingertips.  Will I be able to keep up the flow of this organization?  The answer is no--not on my own.  However, what lured me to this association, then into committees, then onto the board, and now in the President position, is the amazing support and strength in this organization.  From the first continuing education program I attended, people reached out and were willing to remind me of case names, recommend experts, discuss issues, and brainstorm solutions.  I bask in the knowledge of this group’s collective intelligence and as President, draw heavily from its collective energy.
This year we are going to have four or more webinars in place of what used to be our dinner presentations. Our surveys indicate people are still not ready to be shut in a room, elbow to elbow, (that is not the phrase my Grandfather used) with 20-40 other people.  With the help of Our Family Wizard, we will continue to provide our presentations via their Zoom platform.  Our initial talk was September 28th, 2021 discussing House Bill 1228 which added the additional required training for CFI’s and PRE’s.  We are now considering adding a committee to serve as a legislative watch to help notify our members if legislation is presented which may affect our jobs.  We could then individually provide feedback, or at least be aware of what’s coming down the pike.  On November 30th we hosted a webinar discussing Sorensen/Competency Hearings.  You can read an excellent review of that program below! Our next Webinars are:
  • January 25th, 2022, 6:30 p.m.- 8:00 p.m. - Judges Panel.
  • March 29th, 2022, 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. - What is Resist/Refuse Behavior and What is Just Family Conflict? (NOTE:   This topic may change because we have some spectacular speakers available on other issues also.) 
We always welcome input on topics you’d like to hear about.  If you come up with a topic, we’ll come up with a speaker.
On February 4th and 5th, 2022 we will have our winter conference, which looks amazing!  We are considering offering this in person and online.  Our topic is Cultural Sensitivity, Humility, and Competence.  Amazing speakers will address representing parties from different cultural backgrounds or belief systems, and noting our own biases and possible ignorance of these issues. 
I am honored to be President, thrilled to be working with this amazing board, and excited for our year to come.  If you have information you’d like to send me, please email me at  If you get an email from me saying I’ve been kidnapped and need cash, it’s probably not true and don’t send money because I promise any kidnapper will return me after only a short time (my email account has a history of spam/phishing schemes)!  Take care of yourselves and I look forward to the time when we can again say “hello” elbow to elbow, or at least in person.
Sorensen/Competency Hearings

Webinar Review

Marlene Bizub & Kimberly Gent

On November 30, 2021, the COAFCC hosted a webinar on “Client Competency Issues-Practical and Ethical Considerations.”  Attorney David Littman and the Honorable Dina Christiansen provided a very informative presentation moderated by COAFCC Board President Rebecca Pepin with over 50 members in attendance.  Although this topic is often nebulous, this presentation clearly set forth some of the pitfalls and best practices when representing a client whose competency is questionable.

David Littman started the presentation with a discussion of why client competency matters and how to define and detect issues of competency.  Although competency/capacity may be hard to define in family law matters, the Court in In re Marriage of Sorensen, 166 P.3d 254 (Colo. App. 2007), set forth the following four scenarios when it would be an abuse of discretion not to appoint a Guardian ad Litem (GAL), specifically when an individual is:

  1. So mentally impaired so as to be incapable of understanding the nature and significance of the proceeding;
  2. Incapable of making crucial decisions;
  3. Lacks intellectual capacity to communicate with counsel; and
  4. Mentally or emotionally incapable of weighing the advice of counsel.
The Collaborative Law Model
Terri Harrington
In 2021, the Governor signed Colorado’s Uniform Collaborative Law Act, which the legislature passed unanimously. The Act will be effective January 1st of 2022, and is codified in the Colorado Revised Statutes at §13-24-101 et seq. While the Act formalizes the practice of Collaborative Law, many of Colorado’s Family Law attorneys have been successfully practicing this alternative dispute resolution method for years. The first Collaborative Law Training for Family Law attorneys occurred in 2001 and the trainings have been in demand ever since. Colorado consistently offers both entry level (“Level I”) and more advanced (“Level II”) training sessions several times each year. Collaborative Law Trainings are available to attorneys, financial and mental health experts, and mediators, located not only in Colorado, but also in states and countries all over the world. Currently, twenty-two states in the United States have adopted some form of the Uniform Collaborative Law Act.

Bias: Critical Elements to Consider in Forensic Consulting and Expert Testifying

Philip M. Stahl, PhD, ABPP (Forensic)

In 2013, my colleague and friend, Dr. Robert Simon, and I wrote in the first edition of our book3 that we believed cognitive biases to be the greatest risk to forensic neutrality and objectivity in child custody and other forensic work. Many parents often feel that the custody evaluator is biased when a report comes in against that parent’s wishes. It is common for litigants and their attorneys to believe that the evaluator did not like the client, did not utilize a neutral process, or reached conclusions that are not supported by the data. Because the outcome is unfavorable, and because the process may have been suspect, the belief is that the evaluator must have reached this unfavorable conclusion because of bias. Evaluators also reach conclusions that are displeasing to a litigant based upon a solid and well-integrated piece of work. However, bias is perhaps the greatest threat to the integrity and probative usefulness of forensic work products. Understanding what bias is and is not, understanding various types of bias and understanding how bias can be detected in child custody evaluations is fundamentally important.

Josh Christian, (MFTC) & Marlene Bizub, Psy.D.
The use of technology has allowed for contact between child and parent, even when they are not physically in the same location.  Never has the use of technology been as important as it has during the pandemic or generally accepted by the clientele (Cundy 2018).  The use of platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and WebEx has allowed for reunification to be initiated or continued, even during a time of people sheltering in place.  This has allowed the reunification process to continue, even for parents who live in the same area but are reluctant to have physical contact because of the risk inherent to the pandemic. There is also a general trend and acceptance toward remote communication.
There are both drawbacks and benefits to conducting reunification sessions online.  One drawback or limitation to conducting sessions online is that it can be difficult to read body language when on a screen.  Although facial expressions can typically be seen, it can be difficult to see the totality of body language regarding things such as posture or other gestures that might be out of camera view.  Another limitation is there is no way to determine with certainty who might be listening in on the session.  The other parent who is present in the household with the child may be listening in, thus not providing a sense of privacy for the child and parent being reunified, especially if the child is aware that the parent is listening in on the conversation.
The Pourhouse is No More!
Chris Tomchuck

COAFCC Board Member
If you’re a client or we are friends, you very likely know that I love my local coffee shop in Dillon…Summit Cove to be exact.
The Pourhouse opened more than 10 years ago, just after I bought my first house, which is conveniently located just around the corner from the Pourhouse.  It was my office away from my office.  I regularly held client meetings there for years as well as “recovery” sessions after a long night out.   It was my “go to” place for client meetings during COVID.  We could sit outside and feel “safe”. 
I have seen owners come and go but it was always a well-run, friendly place that brewed a great cup of coffee and served excellent food.  One could grab a quick breakfast sandwich or burrito on their way to “first chair” or, if there was more time, sit down and have a more elaborate breakfast or lunch and, of course, a drink.  It always got 5 stars from locals, including me. 
In the last five or six years, it was owned by my neighbor who came from the Front Range to live out her family’s dream of early retirement in the mountains.  In my humble opinion, she only made it better and it was nice to have a friendly face at each visit. 
The folks in my neighborhood and I could not have been happier.  THEN, my family and I went out of town for a few weeks late this past summer, after which my busy law practice kept me away for a few more weeks upon our return.  In September, it was time for a client meeting and a great cup of coffee.  I was running a bit late, (which never happens 😊) and my client called to make sure he was in the right place…. “Did you mean the Starbucks in Dillon by City Market?!?”  he asked.  “No.” I said.  “What you are talking about?  I am pulling in now…..”
Low and behold, the pandemic killed “my” Pourhouse!!!  It was closed for good due to staffing shortages.  I am sure this sad tale has been and will be repeated many times over the next few years as our economy readjusts.  While I know the world is ever-changing and the only thing that is constant is change, I DO NOT HAVE TO LIKE IT. 
In the meantime, support your local businesses and tip your waitstaff.
Kate McNamara, Ph.D., recently published an article with colleagues in the Family Court Review considering what scientific evidence should we consider in providing services to families? This has become a heated debate, potentially impacting both social policy and intervention planning for families. Overreach has been common in this debate and can seriously harm families. While recognizing the valuable information that randomly-controlled trials may provide, the authors identify situations in which other scientific information may be more reliable, relevant and helpful for the complex families we serve. They discuss the essential elements of evidence-informed services, the scope of evidence that may be relevant, and the importance of exercising clinically and scientifically informed inference in planning services.

Greenberg, L.R., McNamara, K. and Wilkins, S. (2021), Science-Based Practice and the Dangers of Overreach: Essential Concepts and Future Directions in Evidence-Informed Practice. Family Court Review, 59: 683-696.

Marian Camden, Psy.D., has published two additional books:  My Parents Are Fighting Again; and An Earth Child's Book for the Very Young.  She now has three books for kids that are divorce related and three in her fun Earth Child Books series.  All can be viewed at  All six of Dr. Camden’s books are available on Amazon.  She is working on a new book unrelated to any of her prior topics, so stay tuned

Susannah Smith, Ph.D., recently became Medical Director for Dream Catcher Therapy Center, a community mental health clinic, in Olathe, CO.  She does mostly telehealth and forensic psychology work product reviews and assessments, but equine therapy can be done safely outside in most cases. 
Please welcome the following folks to the COAFCC family!
Anna Barr
Eugene Bereza
Vincent Bruno
Danielle Contos
Angelina Cordova
Angie Crotser
Peter Garin
Dianna Harris
Mesa Jetton
Maile Kobayashi
Tina Martinez
Shannon McShane
Eileen Missall
Michele Nadel
Laura Ramsey
Angie Reynolds
Jen Ryan
Marc Schtul
Helen Towlerton
Katherine Wilson
Sarah Zane
Rebecca Ziemba


Tuesday - January 25th
6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. 

Evening Webinar:
Judges Panel
What's Helpful and What's Not. 
A Judicial Perspective for All Professional Participants in the Family Court System

The Honorable Judge Findlay from the 8th Judicial District
The Honorable Judge Henson from the 4th Judicial District
The Honorable Judge Cheroutes from the 5th Judicial District

**1.5 Contact Hours & CLEs Requested**

February 4 & 5, 2022
**Live via Zoom**

Friday - 12:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. 
Saturday -  8:45 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. 

Winter Conference:
Cultural Sensitivity, Humility, and Competence
"Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance."

**10 General & 2 ETHICS CLEs**
**10.5 Contact Hours**
**CE for psychologists and social workers have been requested**



March 29, 2022
6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. 

Evening Webinar:
What is Resist/Refuse Behavior and What is Just Family Conflict?
 (NOTE: This topic may change because we have some spectacular speakers available on other issues also.) 

Registration details coming soon!


April 8, 2022

**Live via Zoom**

Spring Conference & Members' Meeting

Topic, speakers and registration details coming soon!


AFCC 59th Annual Conference
May 11-14, 2022
Chicago, IL

The Use, Misuse, and Abuse of Technology in Family Law

15th Symposium on Child Custody
November 10-12, 2022
Las Vegas, NV

Scholarships Available

COAFCC has a scholarship fund to help those in need.  Both full and partial scholarships are available to all online programming.  Check out the simple online application process. 

And keep in mind, AFCC also has a number of
scholarships available for their educational programs. 

Remember - you can't win if you don't play!  

COAFCC members--what have you been up to?

Let us know when something amazing happens - when you publish a peer-reviewed paper or a book of relevance to family law practitioners or when you receive an award or promotion or similar honor.  We'd love to help you celebrate in the Member News section of our newsletter! 
Send an email to April Freier, our administrative assistant:

Love the newsletter?  Have some creative ideas of your own?
We'd love to have your help!

Contact one of our co-chairs, Katie Hays or Tiah Terranova, if you'd like to join the Communications and Public Relations Committee!
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Colorado Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (COAFCC)
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