What Is New Ways For Families

New Ways for Families is a structured parenting skills method intended to reduce the impact of conflict on the children in high-conflict separation and divorce cases. It can be used with married or never-married parents.

This method emphasizes strengthening skills for positive future behavior (new ways), rather than focusing on past negative behavior – while still acknowledging it. It helps to protect children as their families re-organize in new ways after a separation or divorce, by teaching parents skills for long-term co-parenting.

New Ways for Families is intended to teach parents the skills necessary to put their children first by improving their co-parenting skills and jointly making their parenting decisions out of court, which reduces the time the court must spend making decisions for them. When parents make their own parenting decisions, they are more likely to follow the agreements.

This method can be used in family court (as a requirement prior to the court making any decisions), mediation, collaborative divorce, pre-mediation coaching, or even post-divorce with or without the assistance of a parenting coordinator.

Goals of New Ways for Families

By learning small skills in small steps, parents will learn to better communicate, manage their emotions, and make decisions that are in the best interest of their children. New Ways for Families teaches both parents the same 4 skills at the same time, thereby eliminating the parenting contest and the tendency to label one parent as the “good parent” and one parent as the “bad parent.” This method is based on the idea that both parents need to learn the exact same skills in order to effectively use the skills in the course of their co-parenting relationship.


  1. To immunize families against becoming high-conflict families during the separation and the divorce process.
  2. To help parents teach their children resilience in this time of huge and rapid change in the foundation of their family life.
  3. To strengthen both parent’s abilities to make parenting decisions, while relying less on experts and the courts to make their decisions for them.
  4. To assist professionals and the courts in assessing both parent’s potential to learn new, positive ways of problem-solving and organizing their family after a separation or divorce.
  5. To give parents a chance to change poor parenting behaviors (including abuse and alienation) before long-term decisions are made. This method emphasizes learning new skills for positive future behavior.

Managed Emotions

  • Controlling your anger, sadness, fear, and anxiety so as to not over-react
  • Protecting your children from your extreme emotions
  • Calming yourself with encouraging statements

Flexible Thinking

  • Acknowledging that there is more than one solution to every problem
  • Every concern about the past can be turned into a proposal about the future
  • Making and responding to proposals

Moderate Behaviors

  • Avoiding extreme actions, language, and parenting requests
  • Responding to hostile communications with a BIFF Response: Brief, Informative, Friendly, Firm

Checking Yourself

  • Reminding yourself to use these skills during times of stress.

Program Models

Court-Based Counseling

If you have a court order to attend counseling, or if your court order specifically orders you into the New Ways for Families counseling program, you will be using the Court-Based Counseling model. You may also use this model if you would like to voluntarily attend the New Ways counseling sessions for your own benefit. Your lawyer or mediator may also encourage you to complete the counseling while you are working with them to resolve your case.

Collaborative Divorce

If you are working with a Collaborative Divorce team, you will be using the Collaborative Divorce model. The professionals working with you will inform you as how to move forward.

Decision Skills Class

If you have been ordered or encouraged to attend a parenting class or high conflict parenting class and need information on locations, please visit our Find A New Ways Professional page for information on local organizations offer this class in your city.

Pre-Mediation Coaching

If you are participating in mediation (either with your lawyers, a court mediator, or a private mediator) and have been encouraged to complete 1-2 sessions with your lawyer or mediator prior to mediation, you will be using the Pre-Mediation Coaching model. Your lawyer or mediator will inform you as how to move forward.

You may also work through the Pre-Mediation Coaching Workbook on your own, to prepare for an upcoming mediation session.

Each model has been adapted to fit easily into any family law setting, while the skills, goals and purpose are the same in each model: to teach 4 basic relationship and conflict resolution skills before big decisions are made, with the use of a client workbook. New Ways should, ideally, be completed prior to decision making, regardless of which model is used. However, parents can benefit from learning these skills at any time.

In all models, parents are required to complete workbook exercises throughout the course of the program. When participating in any of the in-person models, this will be done with the assistance of a professional.


Each family’s situation is different. Please contact us to discuss the details of our program, including which model is most appropriate for your situation. Your lawyer or mediator is also welcome to contact us for more specific information.

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