New Ways for Families Program helps Divorcing Parents in Medicine Hat Resolve Their Parenting Disagreements

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New Ways for Families Program helps Divorcing Parents in Medicine Hat Resolve Their Parenting Disagreements

What is NWFF?

It’s challenging to through a separation or divorce and almost every parent worries about preserving their relationship with their children.

The New Ways for Families Program (NWFF) in Medicine Hat helps both parents and children do their best during this transition. NWFF gives each parent six individual skill-building sessions. Each parent meets with their own, trained, skill-building counselor (a social worker or psychologist), with the option to meet jointly for their sixth session. After these individual meetings there is an opportunity, if needed, for parents to have a Court review their case.

Then each parent has three additional parent-child skill building sessions with a third counselor.  Here, each parent and their children, meet with the third counselor on alternating weeks, again with the opportunity to meet jointly for their last session.  NWFF generally runs over 16 – 18 weeks, depending on the family.

NWFF helps:

  • Each parent learn new skills – strengthen flexible thinking, manage emotions and practice moderate behaviours
  • Both parents teach their children resilience
  • Both parents strengthen their abilities to make parenting decisions
  • Professionals and Courts assess each parent’s potential to learn new, positive ways to solve problems and organize their family


Clients directed to NWFF by the Court may qualify for a subsidy to make sure fees aren’t a barrier to either parent. The subsidy is made possible from Medicine Hat Family Service through grant funding provided by Alberta Justice and Attorney General. At this time, subsidies aren’t available for clients choosing to participate without a Court order.

How can I get into NWFF?

  • There’s a disagreement between parents about their Parenting Plan
  • Call Medicine Hat Family Service at (403) 504-8026 if you want to participate without a Court order
  • The Court orders the parents to participate in NWFF (the Alberta Provincial Family Court or the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench)
  • Referral from lawyers, mediators, counselors working with separating and divorcing families in the Medicine Hat area
  • Live in Medicine Hat or area

What happens after the NWFF sessions?

Parents are encouraged to make agreements themselves about their Parenting Plan. If they aren’t able to make agreements themselves after participating in NWFF, then they go to Mediation, Collaboration or have their lawyers assist them with their negotiation. If the parents still don’t have a Parenting Plan agreement after this, then they go to a Judicial Dispute Resolution meeting with a Judge who  tries to help them come to an agreement. Only if this last step isn’t successful can the parents go back to Court and ask a different Judge to make decisions for the parents about their Parenting Plan at a trial.

The good news is NWFF is working well for Medicine Hat parents and their children!  About half the parents in NWFF are resolving their parenting disagreements themselves after NWFF.   Most of the remaining parents in NWFF are solving most of their problems themselves and find they need help in Mediation, Collaboration or with lawyer assistance, with only one or two challenging issues. Only a very small number of parents go back to Court to have a trial so a Judge can tell them what to do.

Janis Pritchard
Janis Pritchard helps you navigate the turning points of life. She is a partner, Collaborative Lawyer and Registered Family Mediator with Pritchard & Co. Law Firm, LLP. Janis is part of a team of lawyers and family counsellors working to help Albertans understand their legal options to divorce. Almost half of marriages in Alberta will end before a couple’s 30th anniversary. Contact Janis at (403) 527-4411 or at