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Child-focused and child-inclusive divorce mediation : comparatice outcomes from a prospective study of postseparation adjustment

journal contribution
posted on 01.01.2008, 00:00 authored by Jennifer McintoshJennifer Mcintosh, Y Wells, B Smyth, Caroline Long
This study compared outcomes over 1 year for two groups of separated parents, who attended two different forms of brief therapeutic mediation for entrenched parenting disputes. The two interventions each targeted psychological resolution of parental conflict, enhanced parental reflective function, and associated reduction of distress for their children. The child-focused (CF) intervention actively supported parents to consider the needs of their children, but without any direct involvement of the children, while the child-inclusive (CI) intervention incorporated separate consultation by a specialist with the children in each family, and consideration of their concerns with parents in the mediation forum. Repeated measures at baseline, 3 months, and 1 year postintervention explored changes over time and across treatments in conflict management, subjective distress, and relationship quality for all family members. Enduring reduction in levels of conflict and improved management of disputes, as reported by parents and children, occurred for both treatment groups in the year after mediation. The CI intervention had several impacts not evident in the other treatment group, related to relationship improvements and psychological well-being. These effects were strongest for fathers and children. Agreements reached by the CI group were significantly more durable, and the parents in this group were half as likely to instigate new litigation over parenting matters in the year after mediation as were the CF parents. The article explores the potential of CI divorce mediation to not only safely include many children in family law matters related to them, but also to promote their developmental recovery from high-conflict separation, through enhanced emotional availability of their parents.



Family court review






105 - 124


Wiley Interscience


Malden, Mass.







Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2008, Wiley Blackwell Publishing