Gary Direnfeld

Gary Direnfeld

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an 
expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, 
parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the 
TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead and the parenting columnist for the 
Hamilton Spectator. His book, Marriage Rescue is due out in spring 2013. Gary 
maintains a private practice in Dundas Ontario, providing a range of services 
for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North 

Contact Gary Direnfeld


Articles and Video:

Resolving a Parenting Dispute? Get with the times…. (05/06/16)
For years, family law litigators were the go to persons to facilitate the distribution of property, support obligations and the plan of care for children of the relationship between separating couples.

Beyond Court there is a World of Better Options to Resolve Parental Conflict. Here’s Four: (04/08/16)
When locked in bitter conflict, sometimes people resort to court. This can result in poor outcomes as the court is more limited in terms of solutions that can be ordered.

How to Truly Advance the Needs of the Child between Separated Parents (12/11/15)
Many parents become caught up in the details of a separation and do not spend much time with their children. This can be misconstrued as a lack of interest.

The 7 Strategies for Determining Your Parenting Plan (11/09/15)
The Parenting Plan is the parental agreement setting out how the children will be cared for between separated parents. Essentially, the Parenting Plan is the road map that separated parents will follow for the raising of their kids.

Separated Parents: It’s not Quantum of Time, but Quality of Relationship (10/30/15)
If you get hung up on the quantum of time with your partner and your children, you may lose sight of the quality of your relationship now and for the future.

Just to be clear: Family Court Doesn’t Resolve Conflict (07/30/15)
Parents turn to the court thinking a Judge will settle matters and life will be peaceful thereafter. This is far from the truth.

Separated Parents and the Continuum of Conflict (06/06/15)
Not all parental separations are alike and not all parental separations spell disaster for their children. The social science research advises that the most salient factor in determining risk for poor developmental outcomes for children subject to parental divorce is the level of conflict between the parents.

Differentiating Between Mediation, Med/Arb and Parenting Coordination (05/15/15)
There are only so many options available for separated parents to settle their parenting disputes in a way that minimizes lawyer involvement. Chief among them are: Mediation; Mediation/Arbitration (Med/Arb); and Parenting Coordination.

The Real Christmas Gift for Kids (12/13/13)
Even though parents argue as to the best residential schedule, choice of school, faith, holiday time, Christmas and extra-curricular activities, these issues are simply not as predictive for the wellbeing of children as conflict alone.

Five Sure-Fire Signs You Need Couple Mediation (10/01/12)
It can be difficult to know if your relationship would benefit from going to see a mediator. This author offers five suggestions for examining your relationship to see if it's time to schedule an appointment with a mediator.

Collaborative Divorce (08/06/12)
This article explains some of the specifics of the collaborative process for divorcing couples. It discusses who will be involved and who is subject to the collaborative policies.

Forget Harmony, Settle for Peace (11/19/07)
An oft-common mistake working with high conflict separated parents is to move them towards getting along and working cooperatively for the well-being of their children. It is a lofty and noble goal unfortunately far beyond the grasp of folks who would likely prefer to see the other disappear for a more immediate and permanent solution to the conflict. The more they are pushed together, the more intense the conflict.

Someone Really Really Difficult to Get Along With? (07/09/07)
Most people get along with others. There might be the odd bit of friction between a person or two, but for the most part, most people get along. There is a sub-group of people however, that don’t seem to get along with almost anyone. These persons tend to project blame onto others for their conflict and may also cause others to feel guilty for not meeting expectations in the relationship.

Imagine... A Collaborative Approach To Divorce (05/01/07)
There is a movement in family law whereby divorcing couples can sign agreements with lawyers to not go to court. More specifically, the process is known as Collaborative Family Law (CFL) and the agreement to not go to court is binding upon the lawyers, not the couple. If one or both clients are unsatisfied, either may still march the dispute to court. They will however have to find new lawyers.

Build Rapport to Facilitate Teen Behaviour (09/19/05)
When the relationship is spiraling out of control and parents find themselves at their wits end, the challenge is to rise above the animosity in favour of rebuilding the relationship. Harsher, more restrictive consequences will not bring the teen “under control”. Slowly and deliberately practicing rebuilding strategies can rekindle the relationship through which the parents may find increased influence to provide direction and guidance as opposed to “control”.

Who Started It Doesn’t Necessarily Matter! (08/15/05)
Sitting between parents in a high conflict situation with regard to custody and access issues is like watching the scarecrow in the Wizard of OZ. However, with separated parents they are both pointing at each other, each blaming the other for initiating and maintaining their conflict. In many instances, both have contributed to their mutual conflict and hence both feel justified at incriminating the other. Regardless of who started it, in many instances it is clear, they both maintain it. As a concept this is known as circular causality.

Are you thinking of MEDIATION to settle a parenting dispute? (07/11/05)
Whereas in court the parents are bound by the decision of the judge, in mediation the role of the mediator is to help parents communicate and determine their own solution to the parenting of the children – a mutual agreement.