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Child Custody & Parenting Plans

Family Law Courts Could Benefit from Divorce Parenting Program

Going through a divorce is hard on the entire family. Of course, parents in Los Angeles experience a bevy of emotions when it comes to divorce, as they come to an understanding of their new normal as a single individual. However, children may also need help coping with the transitions divorce brings to their lives. Therefore, parents going through a divorce will likely want to take every measure they can to ensure their child weathers the change in a healthy manner.

Psychologists from Arizona State University have addressed this topic by developing a parenting program in the early 1990s to help children of divorce. Called the "New Beginnings" program, it helps parents going through a divorce develop appropriate parenting skills. It initially involved recently-divorced mothers with children between the ages of 9 to 12. The mothers would go to 10 two-hour group classes. There were also two individual sessions. One of these lasted for 60 minutes, and the other lasted between 20 to 30 minutes. The program emphasized spending quality time with their child, ways to discipline their child and ways to keep the child from becoming enmeshed in the conflict the parents may have with one another.

Researchers have followed program participants and have performed follow-ups six months after the inception of the program, six years after the inception of the program and 15 years after the inception of the program. Recently, a 26-year follow-up has received funding from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. In this follow-up, researchers will study children of divorce who have grown and are now parents themselves. It will look at their parenting styles, physical and mental health and the quality of the relationships these adult children have with other people. The aim is to determine if the "New Beginnings" program helped parents cross-generationally. As of right now, it seems that the program helps parents and children bond with one another as soon as the divorce is finalized, which could have a significant effect on the child's life for years to come.

The program is now being used in family courts in two other states. It remains to be seen if it will be implemented in California, but until then parents can still seek help during the divorce process. Attorneys can help ensure any child custody and parenting time arrangements meet the best interests of the child.

Source:, "The potential of parenting: ASU psychologists develop program to help children of divorce," March 7, 2018