At present divorce intervention services are fragmented an underutilized. We need to design a new system to serve children and families. The first step is to begin to think more broadly about intervention. Too often we are very good at creating powerful, solitary intervention strategies—workshops, e-newsletters, video program and so forth. On their own these instructional tools are useful and beneficial, but too often they only reach a limited audience because of their availability, their attractiveness to the target audience or many other factors.
Another significant limitation of our current divorce education efforts is that they are not well integrated into the broad range of services and issues that confront divorcing families. Although family life educators can provide information and help with parenting issues and relationship issues, we are generally not capable of providing answers to financial and legal questions. Likewise, there are some families who need support to deal with issues of intimate partner violence, custody disputes and many other issues, educators are rarely capable to helping families deal with more intractable and/or dangerous issues.
One way to begin to think about divorce education programs is as a “portfolio of opportunities” that offer participants a range of opportunities or “teachable moments” to engage the educational information. This portfolio could include a range of doses of content, from quick insights that answer immediate questions to longer and deeper learning opportunities. This portfolio can evolve into an ecosystem of interventions that can appeal to a wider range of clients and take advantage of a variety of approaches to deliver education. By creating an ecosystem intervention we can build collaborations across professionals that serve families and across settings with some providing one type of service and others providing other types of services. In divorce education, this would link courts, schools, and family services and the professionals in mediation, therapy, social work and family life education.
A new model of divorce intervention services might look as follows: