Family Mediation Service
Donald T. Saposnek, Ph.D.

Donald T. Saposnek, Ph.D., is a Clinical-Child Psychologist, Child Custody Mediator, and Family Therapist.



NOTE:  During the COVID-19 crisis period, Dr. Saposnek is offering Zoom and Telephonic Sessions for Psychotherapy, Mediation, and Co-Parenting Counseling, with a Flexible Schedule of Appointments.




Dr. Saposnek is the author of the 1983 classic text, Mediating Child Custody Disputes, A Systematic Guide for Family Therapists, Court Counselors, Attorneys, and Judges.

And, he is author of the revised 1998 edition, Mediating Child Custody Disputes: A Strategic Approach.

And, he is co-author of the 2012 book, Splitting America: How Politicians, Super PACs and the News Media Mirror High Conflict Divorce.

And, he is co-author of the 2019 book, The Child Support Solution: Unhooking Custody From Support.



Dr. Saposnek is the past editor of the international Academy of Family Mediators' Mediation News and the international Association for Conflict Resolution's Family Mediation News. He is a Founding Board Member of the Academy of Professional Family Mediators, editor of The Professional Family Mediator and  Editor-in-Chief of all publications of the Academy of Professional Family Mediators. He is on the editorial boards of the Family Court Review and Conflict Resolution Quarterly journals.



Dr. Saposnek has published extensively in the professional literature on divorce, child custody and child psychology.



B.A.  (1966)            University of Calfornia at Los Angeles

                                    Major:  Psychology;  Minor: Philosophy                                

M.A.  (1967)            San Jose State College

                                    Major:  Psychology                 

Ph.D. (1971)            The Ohio State University

                                    Clinical-Child Psychology;

                                    Developmental Psychology

Clinical Internship     The Institute for Juvenile Research (IJR), Chicago, IL.

(APA Approved)              and The Family Institute of Chicago      



As a national and international trainer in mediation and child development, Dr. Saposnek has presented hundreds of workshops to judges, lawyers, mediators and therapists over the past 40+ years, throughout the United States, Europe, and Singapore.

He is also Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine University School of Law's Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, teaching courses in Family Law Mediation and Child Development, since 2009.

And, he has taught on the Psychology Faculty of the University of California, Santa Cruz, for 41 years.

    His Courses have included:   

·        Children and Divorce 

·        Childhood Psychopathology

·        Social and Emotional Development

·        Developmental Psychology

·        Psychology of Conflict and its Resolution

·        Socialization and Child-Rearing

·        The Ecology of Childhood

·        Paradox and Communication

·        Systems of Psychotherapy

·        Psychology of Exceptional Children

·        Autism

·        Practicum in Child Psychology

·        Field Work in Childhood Psychopathology

·        Field Placement Seminar:  Children in Normal Settings

·        Field Placement Seminar:  Children with Behavior   Problems

·        Field Placement Seminar:  Exceptional Children                               



As past Director of Family Court Services of Santa Cruz, he managed the family court services for 17 years and has mediated over 5,000 child custody disputes, in both the public and private sectors since 1977.



As a Clinical-Child Psychologist in private practice with over 49 years of experience, he specializes in the full range of infant, child and adolescent psychological, behavioral, emotional, and psycho-educational problems. He has had a long-time sub-specialty of consulting with parents and teachers on the unique issues of Special Needs Children, particularly those on the Autism Spectrum.



As a Family Therapist, he helps members of a family, or a step-family, more effectively deal with conflicts that naturally arise at certain periods in its development.

As a Marital and Couple's Therapist, his goal is to teach couples problem-solving and conflict resolution skills so they are better able to manage daily marital issues that arise, and enhance what is already good in their relationship.

As part of his couple's work, he offers services as a Relationship Clarification Counselor (assisting couples in making the decision whether to remain together or seek separation or divorce).



As a Divorce Counselor, he assists couples in selecting an optimal method for getting a low-conflict divorce, and educates parents on the expected consequences of divorce for their children and on ways to best protect their children through a divorce;

As a Child Custody Mediator, he assists parents in creating and drafting a post-separation and post-divorce Parenting Plan;

And as a Co-Parenting Counselor, he assists parents in implementing their Parenting Plan with a minimum of conflict.

   *Please note that Dr. Saposnek does no evaluative work in divorce-related matters. This means that he does not advocate for, write letters in support of, or testify on behalf of one parent, and that all of his divorce-related roles are conducted within a strictly confidential format and protected from attorney subpoenas and disclosure to court-appointed custody evaluators and other personnel in Family Court.



Dr. Saposnek is the recipient of a number of awards. These include:

  • The 2002 international Association for Conflict Resolution's JOHN M. HAYNES DISTINGUISHED MEDIATOR AWARD. This prestigious award is presented in recognition of an individual's outstanding contributions to the field of mediation. The individual was selected from more than 7,000 members of the association, representing 47 countries and 18 different areas of mediation practice.
  • The 2002 Monterey Bay Psychological Association's OUTSTANDING PSYCHOLOGIST AWARD, presented in recognition of his exceptional contributions to the field of psychology and to the development of model court mediation and parent education programs benefiting children of divorce, both locally and nationally.
  • The 2003 California Psychological Association's DISTINGUISHED CONTRIBUTION TO PSYCHOLOGY AS A PROFESSION.AWARD. This prestigious award is presented in recognition of an individual's outstanding contributions to expanding the areas of influence by psychologists in our society.
  • The 2019 Academy of Professional Family Mediator's OUTSTANDING PROFESSIONAL FAMILY MEDIATOR AWARD. This prestigious award is presented to a professional family mediator who is a leader and innovator in the family mediation field, and whose imaginative ideas and approaches to mediation, dispute resolution system design, and public awareness, advance the practice of family mediation.



Dr. Saposnek offers a variety of trainings and workshops for divorce professionals. Bringing over 43 years of mediation experience and mediation trainings, 17 years as Director of Family Court Services in Santa Cruz County, CA, combined with over 49 years as a practicing Clinical-Child Psychologist and University Psychology Faculty, he offers the following trainings in a number of formats. These include:

  • Half-day Workshop
  • Full-day Workshop
  • Two-day Workshop

These workshops are useful for private practitioners of both mediation and psychotherapy, court-related practitioners, family law attorneys, and family law judges. They are presented in a lively, entertaining, and engaging style.



  • "Developmental Needs of Children of Divorce: Current Research in Temperament and Brain Research in Attachment and Attunement."
  • "Developing Parenting Plans for Young Children."
  • "Special Needs Children in Divorce, Mediation, and Evaluation."
  • "Interviewing Children in Divorce."
  • "Crafting and Drafting Developmentally-Sensitive Parenting Plans."
  • "High-Conflict Divorce: Managing and Maneuvering Through Anger."
  • "Child Custody Mediation Skills: A Strategic Approach." (Basic Workshop--for New Mediators) (Advanced Workshop--for Experienced Mediators)
  • "25 Roles for Psychotherapists in Divorce Cases."
  • "Advanced Issues for Mediators."
  • "Understanding and Helping Children of Divorce."
  • "Intervening with Children, Divorce, and Custody Issues: How to Reduce Your Risks as a Therapist."
  • "Neuro-diversity in Family Court: Autism Spectrum Disorder in Children and Parents."
  • "Managing Parental Gatekeeping Behaviors."
  • "What Mediators Can Learn From Social Science Research:New Perspectives on Anger and Conflict."

Other specialized trainings and workshops can be developed to suit a particular group's professional needs. For more information, contact Dr. Saposnek at: (831) 476-9225 or at:



Dr. Saposnek also offers Parenting Workshops to schools and public groups:

"PARENTING SKILLS" (BASIC AND ADVANCED). These workshops are centered around the core concept of the child's temperament and how to design parenting approaches that optimize goodness-of-fit with each of their children's unique temperament styles.

With the high incidence of divorce, school districts often find the workshops on parenting skills, particularly the aspects that deal with children of divorce, very useful for parent and teacher groups. Understanding what we have learned in the past 4 decades of research and clinical experiences about the special issues of children in divorce helps both parents and teachers to deal more effectively with these children and their families.

For more information, contact Dr. Saposnek at: (831) 476-9225 or at:


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