Mediation & Alternative Dispute Resolution


New findings about mediation and other alternative dispute resolution processes give insight about their effectiveness and application in legal systems around the world.

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

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Kaspiew, R., Moloney, L., Dunstan, J., & De Maio, J. (2015). Family law court filings 2004-05 to 2012-13 (Research Report No. 30). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies. Read full publication

Trends in family law court filings over a nine year period provide insight about the impact of the court reforms that encouraged greater use of non-court mechanisms for resolving parenting disputes.  Results indicate a substantial decrease in court filings regarding child issues.  This report extends the findings of the 2009 study Evaluation of the 2006 Family Law Reforms.

Mediation

SABĂU, D., & SANDU, C. (2015)  Mediation: Styles Used in Cases Concerning Divorce. Conflict Studies Quarterly, 55.  http://www.csq.ro/wp-content/uploads/CSQ-12.pdf#page=55

In Romania alternative dispute resolution for conflicts between divorcing, separated or divorced couples have expanded rapidly.  This work looks at the mediation process and how mediators think about their work.

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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

3 interesting programs for divorcing parents– free


Just stumbled on to 3 interesting programs designed for parents in various martial transition situations– ProudtoParent, for parents who have never married, UptoParents, for parents who are getting divorced or who have already divorced, and WhileWeHeal, for parents who are struggling with their marital relationship.  

All of these programs require parents and others to log in, but they are all free.  

Haven’t reviewed these carefully, but worth looking at some more.

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

Law and Scientific Evidence about Shared Parenting


A new report to be published in Family Court Review explores the state of the law and the scientific evidence regarding shared parenting.  This is an important review of the scientific and legal landscape.  See Closing the Gap: Research, Policy, Practice and Shared Parenting AFCC Think Tank Final Report  by MK Pruett, JH DiFonzo

Should both parents in high conflict divorces have parenting time?


High-conflict parents pose many challenges for the courts?  There has been much disagreement about whether both parents should continue contact or whether to award custody to one parent and try to reduce the conflict.  Embedded is this dispute is the issue of parent alienation.  Again a troublesome and controversial topic.

New research by Irwin Sandler and colleagues at Arizona State University provides some new insights into the factors that can guide decisions about parenting plans for high-conflict families.  In general, there is much evidence to indicate that high quality parenting by both mothers and fathers reduces the likelihood that children in divorcing families will have psychological problems.  The question posed by Sandler and colleagues is whether factors such as the amount of contact with parents, the amount of conflict and the parenting behavior of the other parent would change these typical findings.  For example, for the child continuing to be engaged with both parents may reduce emotional and behavior problems, but if continued conflict also results in greater exposure to their parents’ conflict, then the costs may outweigh the benefits.  Additionally, the scientists were interested in the how the amount of time each parent spent with the child and the impact this has on the child’s well-being.

Online Divorce Support Resources Increasing


The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts met May 28-June 1, 2013 and many of the exhibitors displayed online resources to support families going through divorce.

Online parent education programs

Managing Coparenting Relationships

There are also some new online tools for managing co-parenting relationships following divorce.  These seem to be designed to help parents who are likely to have conflicts manage their relationships more effectively.

Online Divorce/Conflict Mediation Tools or Services

There are also a variety of online mediation tools that are being developed.