Legal Issues in divorce


Improving how we handle divorce disputes remains an important area of research and policy analysis.

Murphy, J. C., & Singer, J. B. (2015).  Divorced from reality:  Rethinking family dispute resolution.  New York, NY:  NYU Press.  ISBN: 9780814708934

Law professors outline ways to improve our policies and procedures to help families manage their disputes in more effective ways.  They suggest moving dispute resolution services out of the court and into the community, involving children more effectively in the decision-making process and insuring more time and involvement with both parents in post-divorce parenting plans.

Li, K. (2015). What He Did Was Lawful?: Divorce Litigation and Gender Inequality in China. Law & Policy. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/lapo.12034

An examination of gender inequality in court proceedings before and during the divorce process.  This study examines the China legal system.

Family Court Review, July issue, 2015


Topics:  peacemaking, family law, alternative dispute resolution, religious values,

Mosten, F. S. (2015). Peacemaking for Divorcing Families: Editor’s Introduction. Family Court Review, 53(3), 357-360. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/fcre.12156

Burgess, H., & Burgess, G. (2015). Applying the Strategies of International Peacebuilding to Family Conflicts: What Those Involved in Family Disputes Can Learn from the Efforts of Peacebuilders Working to Transform War-Torn Societies. Family Court Review, 53(3), 449-455. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/fcre.12166

Cloke, K. (2015). Designing Heart-Based Systems to Encourage Forgiveness and Reconciliation in Divorcing Families. Family Court Review, 53(3), 418-426. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/fcre.12163

Coates, C. A. (2015). The Parenting Coordinator as Peacemaker and Peacebuilder. Family Court Review, 53(3), 398-406. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/fcre.12161

Daicoff, S. S. (2015). Families in Circle Process: Restorative Justice in Family Law. Family Court Review, 53(3), 427-438. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/fcre.12164

Gamache, S. J. (2015). Family Peacemaking with an Interdisciplinary Team: A Therapist’s Perspective. Family Court Review, 53(3), 378-387. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/fcre.12159

Howe, W. J., & Scully, E. P. (2015). Redesigning the Family Law System to Promote Healthy Families. Family Court Review, 53(3), 361-370. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/fcre.12157

Lewis, H. T. T. (2015). Helping Families by Maintaining a Strong Well-Funded Family Court that Encourages Consensual Peacemaking: A Judicial Perspective. Family Court Review, 53(3), 371-377. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/fcre.12158

Lund, M. E. (2015). The Place for Custody Evaluations in Family Peacemaking. Family Court Review, 53(3), 407-417. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/fcre.12162

Marx, J. A. (2015). The Role of Western Religious Values in Peacemaking for Divorcing Families. Family Court Review, 53(3), 388-397. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/fcre.12160

Morgillo, L. (2015). Do Not Make their Trauma Your Trauma: Coping with Burnout as a Family Law Attorney. Family Court Review, 53(3), 456-473. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/fcre.12167

Mosten, F. S. (2015). Unbundled Services to Enhance Peacemaking for Divorcing Families. Family Court Review, 53(3), 439-448. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/fcre.12165

Nobile, J. J. (2015). Adoptions Gone Awry: Enhancing Adoption Outcomes Through Postadoption Services and Federal and State Laws Imposing Criminal Sanctions for Private Internet Rehoming. Family Court Review, 53(3), 474-486. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/fcre.12168

Prisco, R. (2015). Parental Involvement in Juvenile Sex Offender Treatment: Requiring a Role as Informed Supervisor. Family Court Review, 53(3), 487-503. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/fcre.12169

Schepard, A. (2015). July 2015. Family Court Review, 53(3), 355-356. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/fcre.12155

Divorce Research Update– intimate partner violence, 8-3-15


Intimate partner violence in the divorce process remains a complicated situation for courts, families and those who care about them.  By understanding variations in intimate partner violence and the patterns of the divorce process can provide a better foundation for helping these families.

A more complete list of research report about divorce, remarriage and stepfamilies published in 2015 or between 2010-2015.

Gulliver, P., & Fanslow, J. L. (2015). The Johnson Typologies of Intimate Partner Violence: An Investigation of Their Representation in a General Population of New Zealand Women. Journal of Child Custody, 12(1), 25-46. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15379418.2015.1037051

Hardesty, J. L., Hans, J. D., Haselschwerdt, M. L., Khaw, L., & Crossman, K. A. (2015). The Influence of Divorcing Mothers’ Demeanor on Custody Evaluators’ Assessment of Their Domestic Violence Allegations. Journal of Child Custody, 12(1), 47-70. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15379418.2014.943451

Kaplan, P. L. (2015). Comment on Kleinman and Walker’s “Protecting the Psycotherapy Clients From the Shadow of the Law: A Call for the Revision of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) Guidelines for Court-Involved Therapy”. Journal of Child Custody, 12(1), 93-95. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15379418.2015.1037053

Khaw, L., & Hardesty, J. L. (2015). Perceptions of Boundary Ambiguity in the Process of Leaving an Abusive Partner. Family Process, 54(2), 327-343. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/famp.12104

Lambert, J. E. (2015). Introduction to the Special Issue on Attitudes and Current Research Concerning Intimate Partner Violence: Issues for Child Custody. Journal of Child Custody, 12(1), 1-3. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15379418.2015.1039918

Meier, J. S. (2015). Johnson’s Differentiation Theory: Is It Really Empirically Supported? Journal of Child Custody, 12(1), 4-24. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15379418.2015.1037054

Saunders, D. G. (2015). Research Based Recommendations for Child Custody Evaluation Practices and Policies in Cases of Intimate Partner Violence. Journal of Child Custody, 12(1), 71-92. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15379418.2015.1037052

Divorce Research Update– 6-29-2015


New ideas to consider in thinking about child support policy.  Too often we assume that over the past few decades we understand the economic consequences of divorce and that we have created appropriate policy responses regarding child support.  These 2 reports suggest that we still have much to learn.  Meyer and colleagues raise many questions about how child support laws are working and a report from the Australian Institute of Family Studies explores the variations in the economic circumstances of families in Australia, Germany, Korea, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

A more complete list of research report about divorce, remarriage and stepfamilies published in 2015 or between 2010-2015.

Meyer, D. R., Cancian, M., & Chen, Y. (2015).  Why Are Child Support Orders Becoming Less Likely after Divorce?  Social Service Review.

Despite substantial policy attention to increasing the number of custodial parents
with child support orders, the proportion reporting that they are owed child support is falling.  Potential explanations for this include increases in shared custody, increases in the …

de Vaus, D., Gray, M., Qu, L., & Stanton, D. (March 2015).  The Economic Consequences of Divorce in Six OECD Countries, Research Report No. 31,  Australian Institute of Family Studies.  

This report presents a cross-national comparison of the short- and medium-term economic effects of divorce.  Estimates for men and women are derived from longitudinal data from Australia, Germany, Korea, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

It details how the main sources of income for women change following divorce, and the relative contribution of these sources. The findings show that though divorce has a negative effect on the equivalent household incomes of women in all of these countries, the extent and duration of these negative effects differ markedly between the nations.

The report concludes by briefly considering the possible causes of these differences.

 

Divorce Science Research Updates 6-22-2015


Children refusing to visit a separated or divorced parent is one of the most difficult issues affecting postdivorce adjustment.  Although this is a small group of children, there are many unanswered questions.  Below is some of the most recent work in this area.

Longer list of studies published regarding parental alienation between 2010-2015.  A more complete list of research report about divorce, remarriage and stepfamilies published in 2015 or between 2010-2015.

Parental Alientation

Polak, S., & Saini, M. (2015). Children Resisting Contact With a Parent Postseparation: Assessing This Phenomenon Using an Ecological Systems Framework. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 56(3), 220-247. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10502556.2015.1012698

Parental Alienation– An Update 2015


Parental alienation continues to be a disputed concept among researchers, clinicians and legal experts.  I have updated my list of research articles on this topic (2010-2015).

For a thoughtful history of the study and controversies regarding parental alienation see:

Rand, D. C. (2011). Parental alienation critics and the politics of science. American Journal of Family Therapy, 39(1), 48-71. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01926187.2010.533085

New Report on State Laws About Shared Parenting


A national organization of parents who support “shared parenting” after divorce have issued a new report that rates states regarding their state law on this issue.  This map shows their rankings, see the report.  Shared Parenting Rating by National Parents Organization

New Issue of J of Child Custody published– Oct-Dec 2014


Journal of Child Custody, Volume 11, Issue 4, October-December 2014 is now available online.

Placement Instability as a Risk Factor in Proximal Sexually Inappropriate and Aggressive Behaviors in a Child Welfare Sample

Robert A. Prentky, Austin F. Lee, Raina Lamade, Laura Grossi, Ann Schuler, Gary Dube, Mia DeMarco & Andy Pond Pages: 251-277 DOI: 10.1080/15379418.2014.987335

When the Bedroom Is the Crime Scene: To What Extent Does Johnson’s Typology Account for Intimate Partner Sexual Assault?
Eryn Nicole O’Neal, Katharine Tellis & Cassia Spohn Pages: 278-303
DOI: 10.1080/15379418.2014.943450

Sexual Abuse Forensic Evaluation With Young Children: Program Outcomes and Predictors of Disclosure
Corry Azzopardi, Sheri Madigan & Meredith Kirkland-Burke
Pages: 304-324 DOI: 10.1080/15379418.2014.988901

Intensive Child Therapy to Prevent Further Abuse Victimization: A Case Study
Ricky Greenwald
Pages: 325-334  DOI: 10.1080/15379418.2014.990128

Protecting Psychotherapy Clients From the Shadow of the Law: A Call for the Revision of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) Guidelines for Court-Involved Therapy
Toby G. Kleinman & Lenore E. Walker
Pages: 335-362 DOI: 10.1080/15379418.2014.992563

Shared Parenting Guidelines: Consensus or Not?


There has been considerable debate among scientists about the best practice and policy regarding guidelines for shared parenting.  During the past few years there have been several reviews of the research evidence regarding shared parenting following divorce and the recommendations don’t always agree.  There are two new reports each with an array of scientists and practitioners.

So here is one interesting note.  Only Richard Warshak is on both lists.

One of these reports, authored by Richard Warshak, titled, “Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children:  A Consensus Report” includes the endorsement of 110 scientists and practitioners.  In the introduction he writes,

“One hundred and ten researchers and practitioners have read, provided comments, and offered revisions to this article.  They endorse the article’s conclusions and recommendations, although they may not agree with every detail of the literature review” (Warshak, 2014, p. 46).

This is an impressive list of many of the major scientists who study divorce issues.  This list includes 79 professionals who list universities or research centers as their primary affiliation and 31 professional in clinical practice.  So what about the people who are not on the list:  There are a number of prominent scientists who are not on the list.  Were they contacted?  Did they refuse because they disagreed with the recommendations or were too busy to respond?  Perhaps they just didn’t like the whole idea of “endorsing” these conclusions.  Nevertheless, none of the other participants who compiled the following report and whose names are listed below are on Warshak’s “consensus” article, why not?  At least one answer is that there is not quite the consensus that Warshak presents.

The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts convened a task force to explore research regarding shared parenting.  In contrast to Warshak’s “consensus” view, the task force report provides various points of view, the disagreements and the research questions that need more study.  (This is the original unpublished Task Force Report.)  The most recent version of the report was made public in Family Court Review, April 2014. The editors write, 

“The Think Tank Report describes a series of research-based key points on which the multidisciplinary think tank participants agreed. Nonetheless, that agreement did not extend to how the consensus should be enacted into legislative or judicial policy to resolve contested parenting disputes” (Emery & Schepard, 2014).

Both of these reports are important to read and to study.  Perhaps the most important part of the Task Force report is the list of questions that still need more study.  There is still much to understand in order to provide guidance to practitioners and policymakers.

So here is the list of the AFCC Task Force Members:

Convenors: 

  • Arnold Shienvold, Ph.D. (Co-Chair),
  • Peter Salem, M.A. (Co-Chair),
  • Marsha Kline Pruett, Ph.D., M.S.L. (Co-Reporter),
  • J. Herbie DiFonzo, J.D., Ph.D. (Co-Reporter),
  • Bernie Mayer, Ph.D. (Facilitator),
  • Loretta M. Frederick, J.D. (Steering Committee),
  • Hon. Ramona Gonzales (Steering Committee),
  • Stacey Platt, J.D. (Steering Committee), and
  • Kyle D. Pruett, M.D. (Steering Committee).

Participants:

  • Nicholas Bala, J.D.,
  • Lawrence Jay Braunstein, J.D.,
  • Margaret F. Brinig, J.D.,
  • Bud Dale, J.D., Ph.D.,
  • Robin Deutsch, Ph.D.,
  • Hon. Grace G. Dickler,
  • Leslie Drozd, Ph.D.,
  • Robert Emery, Ph.D.,
  • William V. Fabricius, Ph.D.,
  • Hon. William Fee,
  • Jonathan Gould, Ph.D.,
  • Linda Fieldstone, M.Ed.,
  • Hon. Dianna Gould-Saltman,
  • Grace M. Hawkins, LCSW,
  • Leslye Hunter, LMFT,
  • Janet R. Johnston, Ph.D.,
  • Joan B. Kelly, Ph.D.,
  • Jennifer McIntosh, Ph.D.,
  • Anne Menard,
  • Irwin Sandler, Ph.D.,
  • Andrew Schepard, J.D.,
  • Richard A. Warshak, Ph.D., and
  • Justice R. James Williams.

Invited but unable to attend:

  • Chief Justice Diana Bryant (Family Court, Australia),
  • Jean Clinton, M.D.,
  • Justice Rebecca Love Kourlis (Colo. Sup. Ct., ret.),
  • Michael Lamb, Ph.D.,
  • Robert Marvin, Ph.D., and
  • Leslie Ellen Shear, J.D.

Shared Parenting: A Debate Among Experts


There is an extensive debate about the “right” custody policies and practices in courts and the research evidence for and against various shared parenting plans.  Much of the focus of the dispute is in regards to the evidence regarding overnight stays for young children in non-custodial parent homes.   Articles by Nielsen and Warshak make make strong critiques of the work by McIntosh that has highlighted possible negative outcomes for young children in these arrangements.  McIntosh and colleagues also present their own analysis of the evidence.  In their editorial statement for Family Court Review, Emery and Schepard note that there is not yet a consensus on all policy matters, but there are some areas of agreement.

See these articles for a deeper analysis of these issues.  

Braver, S. L. (2014). The costs and pitfalls of individualizing decisions and incentivizing conflict: A comment on AFCC’s think tank report on shared parenting. Family Court Review, 52(2), 175-180. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/fcre.12079

Brinig, M. F., Frederick, L. M., & Drozd, L. M. (2014). Perspectives on joint custody presumptions as applied to domestic violence cases. Family Court Review, 52(2), 271-281. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/fcre.12090

DiFonzo, J. H. (2014). From the rule of one to shared parenting: Custody presumptions in law and policy. Family Court Review, 52(2), 213-239. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/fcre.12086

Emery, R. E., & Schepard, A. (2014). April 2014. Family Court Review, 52(2), 143-144. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/fcre.12076

Jaffe, P. (2014). A presumption against shared parenting for family court litigants. Family Court Review, 52(2), 187-192. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/fcre.12081

Lamb, M. E. (2014). Dangers associated with the avoidance of evidence-based practice. Family Court Review, 52(2), 193-197. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/fcre.12082

McIntosh, J. E., Pruett, M. K., & Kelly, J. B. (2014). Parental separation and overnight care of young children, part II: Putting theory into practice. Family Court Review, 52(2), 256-262. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/fcre.12088

Miller, S. (2014). Judicial discretion and the voice of the child in resolving custody disputes: Comments on the think tank report. Family Court Review, 52(2), 198-199. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/fcre.12083

Nielsen, L. (2013). Shared residential custody: Review of the research (part I of II). American Journal of Family Law, 27(1), 61-71. 

Nielsen, L. (2013). Shared residential custody: Review of the research (part II of II). American Journal of Family Law, 27(2), 123-137. 

Nielsen, L. (2014). Woozles: Their role in custody law reform, parenting plans, and family court. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 20(2), 164-180. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/law0000004

Pruett, M. K., & DiFonzo, J. H. (2014). Advancing the shared parenting debate, one step at a time: Responses to the commentaries. Family Court Review, 52(2), 207-212. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/fcre.12085

Pruett, M. K., & DiFonzo, J. H. (2014). Closing the gap: Research, policy, practice, and shared parenting. Family Court Review, 52(2), 152-174. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/fcre.12078

Pruett, M. K., McIntosh, J. E., & Kelly, J. B. (2014). Parental separation and overnight care of young children, part I: Consensus through theoretical and empirical integration. Family Court Review, 52(2), 240-255. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/fcre.12087

Salem, P., & Shienvold, A. T. (2014). Closing the gap without getting to yes: Staying with the shared parenting debate. Family Court Review, 52(2), 145-151. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/fcre.12077

Scott, E. S. (2014). Planning for children and resolving custodial disputes: A comment on the think tank report. Family Court Review, 52(2), 200-206. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/fcre.12084

Ver Steegh, N., & Gould-Saltman, H. D. (2014). Joint legal custody presumptions: A troubling legal shortcut. Family Court Review, 52(2), 263-270. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/fcre.12089

Warshak, R. A. (2014). Social science and parenting plans for young children: A consensus report. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 20(1), 46-67. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/law0000005