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US "divorce coach" to promote Scots parent classes

12 May 2008

US-style "parental coaching" for divorcing couples will be promoted in Scotland later this month with the visit of a leading exponent of the practice.

Christina McGhee, who presented a Channel 4 series entitled How to Divorce Without Screwing up your Kids in 2006, is to lead a one-day seminar organised by Family Mediation Scotland (FMS), with the support of legal firms HBJ Gateley Wareing and Lindsays.

The event, a special training session for lawyers working in this field, takes place at HBJ Gateley Wareing’s offices in Canning Street, Edinburgh on 27 May. It will lead to a pilot of parental education classes run by FMS and it is hoped that family lawyers will encourage all separated parents they encounter as clients to attend.

Pioneering model

Cath Karlin, of HBJ Gateley Wareing and immediate past convener of the Scottish Collaborative Family Law Group, said: "Christina is one of the leading exponents of parental coaching in the world. She has helped countless couples to resolve issues arising from their separation in a more civilised way that helps to protect themselves and – very importantly – their children.

"The training session will provide Scottish lawyers in this field with an invaluable opportunity to look at the US model which Christina has helped to pioneer, at the impact parenting classes can have on separated couples, at the effects of separation on children, and at the role of lawyers in the process."

Lesley Gordon, head of the family law team at Lindsays, added: "With increasing divorce rates – almost half of marriages now end in divorce – we need to move to a less adversarial system and encourage the legal profession to seek to embed a more solution focused, child friendly approach."

The Scottish Collaborative Family Law Group wishes to see parenting classes introduced as a part of any divorce proceedings, along with a range of alternate dispute resolution efforts. Increasingly, research shows that the fallout from parental acrimony can lead to behavioural problems in children, lower levels of attainment and higher levels of smoking, drinking and drug use.