William G. Austin, Ph.D., Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist
Evergreen, Colorado
Raleigh, North Carolina
Wilmington, North Carolina
Email: wgaustinphd2@yahoo.com

William G. Austin, Ph.D., Ph.D.

Licensed Psychologist

Settlement Facilitation for Separated/Divorcing/Divorced Parents: A Gatekeeping Approach to Reaching Voluntary Agreement on a Parenting Plan


Screening Assessment

Facilitation of Settlement

Education (Co-Parenting)



S.A.F.E. is a forensic psychological service developed by Dr. Bill Austin based on his

professional writings, workshops and forensic evaluation model on Parental Gatekeeping (along with colleagues). The service also incorporates a Performance Enhancement approach to encourage parents to strive for excellence in parenting by valuing the contributions of the other parent and working on their co-parenting relationship.

S.A.F.E. is designed to assist parents in developing their own parenting plan and parenting time schedule and to help contain the professional expenses associated with divorce.  If this early intervention is successful it will avoid the need for a court-appointed parenting evaluation [Parenting Responsibility Evaluation (PRE) or Child & Family Investigation (CFI)], litigation, mediation, or attorneys for the parenting plan aspect to a divorce agreement. It is a very cost effective service to facilitate reaching an agreement on a parenting plan, or to contribute to attorneys or a mediator in their attempts to produce a settlement. The approximate cost is $750 to each parent.

To read the Brochure for S.A.F.E. go to [Click Here]

S.A.F.E is an early intervention service designed to assist separating/divorcing parents and partners to come to a voluntary settlement, or agreement on a parenting plan. The service may assist parents to develop a parenting plan before attorneys are hired or to contain legal fees if they do have an attorney. Most parents do reach an agreement. Many do so without an attorney. S.A.F.E. attempts to facilitate this process with the gatekeeping approach on co-parenting education and coaching/parent consultation.

The service emphasizes research-based co-parenting education based on the gatekeeping model and research. [Click Here]

One purpose of this service is to help parents contain their legal fees. S.A.F.E. is very cost effective. It is designed as a 5 hour service with a cost of $750 for each parent if they can participate in joint interviews and discussion.

S.A.F.E. is not mediation. It is not mental health counseling. It contains a certain amount of coaching, or advice-giving based on child development research and practical considerations that fit the realities of the family circumstances.

S.A.F.E. is a cost-effective service that parents can choose before or after securing the services of an attorney, attempting mediation, and/or deciding to request the court to appoint an evaluator to conduct either a Parental Responsibility Evaluation (PRE) or Child and Family Investigation (CFI).

S.A.F.E. is primarily designed for parents whose partnership is dissolving, but it can be useful when one or both parents want to modify their parenting plan and before they head down the path of litigation. Parents can always voluntarily agree to modify their parenting plan as circumstances with the children and family change.

S.A.F.E. is designed to facilitate the parents coming to a voluntary agreement on a parenting plan that will be acceptable to both parents and be in the children’s best interests. A brief written report is prepared by Dr. Austin for the parents to have as they may continue to discuss how to come to a voluntary agreement and consider parenting plan options. The report may be helpful to attorneys as they look for ways to reach an agreement and to a mediator who may become involved.

Participants are asked to read the Gatekeeping Bench Book prior to arriving and will receive other educational materials on co-parenting. The educational component will include a power point presentation. [link to Bench Book]


Description of S.A.F.E. service

Intended for Whom?            Divorcing, Separating Parents who cannot agree on a parenting plan;

before or after hiring attorneys 

after a temporary hearing and roadblocks to agreement on a parenting plan are clear 

before trying mediation 

before filing a  motion for a parenting evaluation 

for pro se parents (self represented)

Parents in conflict who want to modify an existing parent plan; before or after filing motions for modification

Purpose:                                 Early Intervention for parents who appear headed for litigation

                                                To contain divorce-related professional expenses

Highly Cost Effective compared to attorney fees; mediation; parenting evaluation; and litigation

Provide brief co-parenting education to promote future cooperative co-parenting

Provide co-parenting education from Dr. Austin’s parental gatekeeping model to facilitate settlement, contain emerging parental conflict, and promote future cooperative co-parenting 

Provide brief written summary to be helpful to parents, attorneys, and mediators to facilitate settlement on a parenting plan that will be acceptable to the parents and in the children’s best interests

Early Intervention when a parent wants to modify an existing parenting plan and before litigation or mediation

Time & Cost:                           5 hours at $300/hour if parents can be jointly participate in each component; 9 hours if separate sessions; $750 per parent is highly cost effective;

Parents can request a reduced fee when they have limited financial means. The reduced fee rate is $200 per hour, or $500 per parent with joint sessions.

Dr. Austin occasionally will provide the S.A.F.E. services as a pro bono service.

Description:               Screening Assessment  Component (1 hour)

·         identify main issues in disagreement

·         Screen for domestic violence, substance abuse, mental disorder concerns

·         Gatekeeping Quiz

·         Obtain self & other ratings on Gatekeeping

·         Identify parents’ positions on parenting time and decision-making

·         Identify concerns on communication

·         Identify Parenting Time Options being considered

·         Identify children’s needs

·         Gather information on children’s preferences?

·         Identify Gatekeeping Concerns

·         Identify Protective Gatekeeping Concerns

·         Screen for alienation

·         Is relocation an issue?

·         Assess quality of past & present co-parenting relationship

·         Identify concerns about the other parent’s parenting skills & style

Co-Parenting Education Component (1 hour)

·         Teach Gatekeeping model

·         Identify gate-opening & gate-closing behaviors

·         Identify Facilitative Gatekeeping

·         Identify Restrictive Gatekeeping

·         Research: Effects of divorce on children

·         How to lower the risk?

·         Dads’ Learning Curve on Parenting

·         When very young; overnights issue

·         Education on how Divorce creates a threat to the Parental Identities

·         Education on Parental Communication

·         Education on Compartmentalizing divorce angst, grief, sense of betrayal from developing a post-divorce workable co-parenting relationship

·         Research Education: effects of conflict; importance of both parents

·         Research Education: Attachment Theory & Social Capital perspective

·         Forms of Co-Parenting relationship: cooperative, parallel, conflicted

·         Co-Parenting for Life Perspective

·         Performance Enhancement Perspective

Feedback and Coaching Component (2 hours)

·         It is not mediation

·         It is not mental health counseling

·         Encouragement of voluntary settlement: the advantages in cost & promotion of cooperative co-parenting

·         Coaching on conflict containment for children’s best interest & parents’ mental health

·         Conditional trust in co-parenting

·         Avoiding Rigidity; structure with flexibility

·         Coaching on recognizing value in other parent

·         Coaching on mutual reinforcement of positive co-parenting

·         Renegotiating Parental Responsibilities

·         Transition to post-divorce family

·         Discuss finding a good fit for family facts, history of parenting, and parenting plan options

·         Message of “Let Time do its Work” for

·         Discuss Gradual Increase in Father’s Parenting Time

·         Distribution of Alternative Parenting Plan Options

·         Provide sample language of a written parenting plan

Written Summary

·         Brief

·         Given to the Parents & Attorneys

·         Describe salient issues

·         Describe level of Conflict

·         Present Gatekeeping Analysis

·         Describe any allegations of risk or harm

·         Points of agreement

·         Identify issues where parents not in agreement

·         Discuss if it appears a PRE or CFI is needed

Procedure to Participate in S.A.F.E.

  • Referral: by self, attorneys, or court
  • Contact: Telephone or call Dr. Austin to make appointment: 303.670.6767 or 970.846.1157 (cell) or e-mail wgaustinphd2@yahoo.com. Appointments cannot be made until the fee has been pre-paid.
  • Information Form: download & complete Parent Information Form from the Forms and Fees webpage on website (www.parentalgatekeeping.com ) Fax (303.217.8990) or e-mail to Dr. Austin.
  • Pre-payment for services is required by sending check or providing credit card information via Chase Bank or PayPal secure sites. Click on either one and complete the secure credit card information. This information and payment of $750 must be made prior to making an appointment.

  • Check can be mailed to: P.O. Box 3939, Evergreen, CO 80437.
  Services Available in Colorado and North Carolina Locations
Evergreen, Colorado
Cary and Wilmington, North Carolina