Legal & Therapeutic Considerations when
working with High-Conflict Separated Families

Part 1: Therapeutic Considerations with Social Worker Paul Lodge

Working with children and families experiencing high-conflict separation can be incredibly stressful for clinicians, navigating the parental conflict, the needs of the child and the complexities of legal and ethical considerations. This workshop will outline important assessment principles and therapeutic frameworks for working with families with high-conflict separation from an attachment-based perspective. It will provide an overview of a suggested three phases of therapy in working with these families, as well how to support separated and often hostile parents to achieve “good-enough” co-parenting for optimal outcomes for the child. In addition to an attachment-based framework, the workshop will also be informed by principles of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Family Therapy.

Within an organised three phase framework, participants will gain important skills that will help them work more confidently with these families that often cause clinicians sleepless nights.

Part 2: Family Law with Solicitors Rose Laffan and Sacha Mastras

The Family Law view on your treating role – for a child, for a parent, or for the family and the Family Court procedures that you may come across.

What an incredible privilege to be joined by two highly experienced family law solicitors to answer every worrisome question about working with family undergoing separation, divorce and child custody disputes. Rose and Sacha will provide an overview of important legal considerations in working with children and families in this area including:

  • The Family Court's Expectations of Mental Health Practitioners including maintain a unbiased approach
  • Understanding and Navigating Informed Consent from Children and Parents, (including the legal obligations of consent where both parents don’t agree on their child attending psychological therapy or where a child objects to one parent being involved in therapy)
  • Exploring Best Practice Record Keeping, Report Writing and Communications in Family and Child Related Matters
  • Responding to and Objecting to Subpoenas, Requests for Reports and giving evidence in Court: Examining Options Including Seeking Redaction of Documents
  • Confidentiality, Privacy and Sharing Information: Understanding Your Obligations

Rose and Sacha will increase your knowledge and confidence around managing the legal considerations in this complex field.

Part 3: Q & A

Medicare Accredited Clinical Social Worker Paul Lodge will join solicitors Sacha Mastras and Rose Laffan for a Q&A panel discussion to answer all your questions about the legal aspects of working with these families and the impact of this on the therapeutic process.


Friday 13th May, 2022


Kahibah Sports Club
63 Kenibea Ave

COVID Cancellations

If this event is cancelled by the organiser or the venue each participant will be given 100% refund. Similarly, if you are impacted by COVID restrictions on an individual level you will receive 100% refund.



8:30am Registration & tea/coffee
9am Session 1: Paul Lodge
11am Morning tea (included)
11:30am Session 2: Paul Lodge
1:30pm Lunch (included)
2pm Session 3: Solicitors Rose & Sacha
3:30pm Afternoon tea (included)
3:45pm Session 4: Paul, Sacha & Rose - Q&A panel 30 minutes


Paul Lodge

Paul Lodge

Arts (Hons) B. Philosophy in Social Work (Hons)
Postgraduate Diploma in Conflict Resolution

Paul Lodge is a Medicare Accredited Clinical Social Worker and Family Consultant who has worked, for more than thirty years, with children and parents in child-focussed settings. He works with families who are experiencing, or have experienced, stressful events and processes – particularly, those that are associated with separation and divorce.

Before joining the Relationspace team, Paul was a Senior Family Consultant at the Family Court of Australia for twenty one years. He was the recipient of the Court’s highest honour, the Janet Kitcher Excellence in Performance Award (2007). Prior to the Family Court, Paul was Head of Social Work at the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children, Sydney – a position which he held for ten years.

The portfolio of competencies and services provided by Paul include:

  • Child and family conflict resolution/mediation;
  • Single expert reports;
  • Standard family reports;
  • Attachment-based educational groups for parents;
  • Individual supervision for professionals;
  • Substance misuse and parenting;
  • Family violence.
  • Evidence-based seminars and lectures across a range of subjects pertinent to the family law field – including
    • attachment in infancy and early childhood,
    • parent/child estrangement,
    • child sensitive parenting schedules,
    • relocation;

An interest in, and commitment to, the attachment framework as a way of accessing the internal world of young children has underpinned Paul’s professional life. During his time at the Family Court he undertook intensive attachment training at workshops conducted by one of the world’s leading practitioners in the field. Paul credits these workshops, together with his many years of experience in working with children and families at The Children’s Hospital and The Family Court, for his capacity to observe and interpret the attachment behaviours of infants and very young children in challenging contexts – such as the development of child sensitive post-separation parenting schedules.

Paul has regularly presented social science oriented seminars and lectures to judges, federal magistrates, family lawyers and social scientists in a variety of forums. He has received uniformly positive feedback from these professions for his communication and training skills and extensive knowledge base. 

Rose Laffan LinkedIn

Rose Laffan

Rose is the Senior Associate and member of the Separation, Family, Relationships team, at Mullane & Lindsay Solicitors. Rose graduated from the University of Newcastle in 2005 with a Bachelor of Laws and a Diploma of Legal Practice. She was admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of NSW in February 2006 and the High Court of Australia that same year. Rose also holds a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Political Science from the University of Newcastle.

Since 2006 Rose has practiced in the area of family law. She has a real passion for family law practice – believing that family law clients are often experiencing the worst time of their lives. Often they may be leaving the family home, no longer with their children, or facing financial insecurity. She has found it to be an extremely gratifying experience to assist clients through such trauma and in the establishment of a new legal framework.

In order to consolidate her family law expertise, Rose completed a Masters of Applied Law (Family Law) from the College of Law in 2012 and focusses her continuing legal education in that area.

Rose is also currently teaching a Family Law subject at the University of Newcastle.

Rose is a member of the Law Society of NSW, the Newcastle Law Society (Rose is currently the Secretary of the Newcastle Law Society) and the Hunter Valley Family Law Practitioners Association. To give back to the Newcastle community, and the University, Rose has volunteered at the University of Newcastle Legal Centre – advising disadvantaged clients in relation to family law matters during their Wednesday evening legal clinics – since 2006.

Sacha Mastras LinkedIn


Sacha Mastras is an Accredited Specialist in Family Law and has also completed the Master of Laws (Applied Law) majoring in Family Law, working with the Kilpatrick Hatton Solicitors Family Law team.

Knowing the emotional and financial stress that family breakdowns can cause, Sacha prides herself on providing straightforward advice and practical solutions to clients. With a focus on assisting clients to resolve their disputes through negotiations and mediations, court proceedings are sometimes unavoidable, and Sacha has experience in representing clients by appearing before the Family Courts.

Having been practicing exclusively in Family Law for over a decade, Sacha has significant expertise across all areas of Family Law.


Page Last Updated: 13 May 2022