207-761-2709 info@kidsfirstcenter.org

Co-Parenting Conference for Professionals

Substance Use, Misuse, and Abuse: Contemporary Challenges for Family Court

December 9 & 10, 2021 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.

This year’s professional multi-disciplinary conference will again be a virtual event with sessions spanning two afternoons.


Early Registration Price EXTENDED to Nov. 30th • After Nov. 30th: $275, • KFC Facilitators: $125 • Students: $50

Approved for 5.5 CLE credits (Attorneys); 5.5 CPE credits (Guardians ad litem) LIVE CREDITS

    Keynote Speaker:
    Dr. Stephanie Tabashneck

    Dr. Stephanie Tabashneck is a psychologist and attorney in Boston. Her practice areas include forensic psychological assessment, substance use issues, child custody, and criminal forensic evaluations. Dr. Tabashneck presents regionally and nationally on psychology and law topics, including at events organized by the American Bar Association, the Federal Judicial Center, the American Psychiatric Association, the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, the Massachusetts Trial Courts, and the New York Office of Attorneys for Children. Dr. Tabashneck is a board member of the Massachusetts chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts. Recent publications include the book Substance Use and Parenting: Best Practices for Family Court Practitioners (2021), an article on the opioid crisis and family drug courts in the scholarly journal Family Law Quarterly (Spring 2019), and a chapter in the American Bar Association bookRepresenting People with Mental Disabilities: A Practical Guide for Criminal Defense Lawyers (2019)

    Conference Overview:

    If you live or visit Portland, Maine, it is hardly an exaggeration to say that it seems that a cannabis retailer is popping up on every corner and in every neighborhood. 

    According to the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy, there are now 58 licensed adult-use retailers in Maine representing 788,551 sales transactions in 2020. The average price of a smokable gram of cannabis is down from $16.68 to $12.46. This in an economic environment where other consumer good prices are rising. In just under a year, Maine's recreational cannabis industry alone has brought in sales of nearly $60 million. This does not include sales for medical use cannabis or other substances, such as alcohol. Who is supporting these sales? Perhaps your client who now finds themselves in a family law case. 

    This year's professional conference explores how professionals and courts deal with parents that are using, misusing, and abusing substances. The landscape is changing rapidly, but is the family court system keeping pace? 

    ​Each day, judicial officers are tasked with developing parenting plans in family matters that balance behaviors of parents with the best interests of the children. How can "family centered" plans be crafted so that a parent that uses, misuses, and perhaps abuses substances is not barred from having a meaningful parenting experience. What about a parent that does not use and is left to "pick-up the pieces when use, misuse, and abuse upends a family." And what impact do these decisions have on the outcome of our children. 

    This conference seeks to address these issues and spark a dialogue on how courts adapt to this new acceptance of use within a rather murky statutory framework.

    Day One Sessions:

    The Conference moderator is Susan Wiggin, social worker and president of the Kids First Center's Board of Directors. 

    Day 1 of the conference will open with a review of the current state of the law with attorney John M. Burke guiding attendees through Substance Use Law 101. Then, Attorney Christopher Leddy will speak about structuring a plan for the substance abuse case for guardians ad litem, therapists, and lawyers.

    Day 1 concludes with Dr. Tabashneck's keynote presentation that will include a survey of the changing family court landscape and the challenges judges face in trying to craft parental rights judgments in an environment that is increasing more torrent of substance use for both medical and recreational purposes. The presentation will focus on how to proceed when substance misuse dynamics are present in families. Due to stigma and a lack of understanding about addiction, professionals, courts, and child welfare practitioners often impose conditions and interventions that are contrary to best practices and addiction research. Uninformed professional and court responses can destabilize the parent-child relationship, negatively impact co-parenting, and unwittingly harm family systems. Drawing on the latest research and neuroscience, this session will help professionals to set realistic expectations, effectively manage relapse, and institute safeguards that can be implemented to promote positive co-parenting and protect children and parents. Practical science-informed tips will also be provided to use when grappling with these challenging cases.


    12:45 pm to 1:00 pm     Attendee sign-in to conference
    1:00 pm to 1:10 pm       Moderator welcome Susan Wiggin, LMSW (cc)
    1:10 pm to 1:40 pm       Session #1: John M. Burke, Esq.  Substance Law 101
    1:40 pm to 2:10 pm       Session #2: Chris Leddy, Esq. Tying a Case Together
    2:10 pm to 2:20 pm       Sponsor Presentation, Our Family Wizard
    2:20 pm to 2:30 pm       Break
    2:30 pm to 4:00 pm.      Session #3: Stephanie Tabashneck, PsyD., Esq. 
    4:00 pm to 4:15 pm       Q & A with Dr. Tabashneck
    4:15 pm                            Adjourn

    Day Two Sessions:

    The conference continues on Friday with the first presentation by noted substance abuse expert, Dr. Jonathan Fellers

    Dr. Fellers will provide a medical and mental health primer on how substance use, misuse, and abuse impact the human brain, and more particularly, the parenting brain. 

    Leslie Clark, Executive Director of the Portland Recovery Community Center and social worker will follow with a lecture on specific interventions that are available to parents and how inventions can be crafted to be "family-centered" and not punitive or shaming. 

    The conference will conclude with a "View from the Bench" featuring Maine District Court Judge, Susan Oram. Judge Oram will draw upon her experiences with the Family Recovery Court and talk about how lessons learned in that court can help inform the practice in family court.


    12:45 pm to 1:00 pm     Attendee sign-in to conference
    1:00 pm to 1:05 pm       Opening remarks
    1:05 pm to 1:50 pm       Session #4: Jonathan Fellers, MD A Medical Primer
    1:50 pm to 2:35 pm       Session #5: Leslie Clark Family-Centered Resources
    2:35 pm to 2:45 pm       Sponsor Presentation, Soberlink
    2:45 pm to 3:00 pm       Break
    3:00 pm to 4:00 pm       Session #6: Judge Susan Oram A View From the Bench
    4:00 pm to 4:15 pm       Q & A with Judge Oram and Susan Wiggin
    ​4:15 pm                           Adjourn


    Early Registration starts on November 1, 2021. Meeting ID and login information will be emailed at registration and reminders will be sent prior to the event.