The Early Identification and Streaming
of Cases of High Conflict Separation and Divorce: A Review


The following questions formed the basis for the interviews.

Concerning the incidence of "high conflict" divorces.

The special Joint Committee heard last year many references about the incidence of high conflict divorces. The incidence of these situations was estimated at between 10 and 15 percent of all divorcing families.

  • Does your research/clinical work give any precision to this number?

  • Are you aware of factors that influence the incidence of these situations?

Concerning the definition of "high conflict" divorces.

This research is attempting to develop a typology, which will help in the early identification of "high conflict" situations so that these families might be diverted or "streamed" into alternative dispute resolution services.

  • What factors do you think initially contribute to these high conflict situations?

  • What factors do you think help maintain these situations?

  • What measures do you use in your work to identify these families from other divorcing families?

  • If you were to develop a typology of high conflict situations, what five factors would you include?

Concerning the harmful effects of high conflict.

The majority of research shows that high conflict situations after divorce have an extremely high detrimental effect on children.

  • Does your research/clinical work support this finding?

  • What are the most serious and long lasting effects of high conflict on children?

  • Are you aware of any difference in how high conflict affects boys and girls?

  • Are there certain periods of development when children are either more vulnerable or more insulated from these harmful effects?

  • What are your conclusions about the long-term versus short-term effects of high conflict on children?

  • Are there factors that can help mitigate these harmful effects?

Several research studies indicate that the harmful effects of high conflict may be overly estimated. These studies show that the damage for children actually occurs in the pre-divorce conflict, not the post-divorce conflict.

  • What is your opinion on this?

Concerning the effect of divorce on children.

Most research shows that all divorces have a detrimental effect on children. However, there does appear to be some disagreement concerning whether these effects are long lasting or permanent, or whether they are a difficult transition period that most children get through without any lasting harm.

  • Does your work give any new information about the transitory versus permanent harm caused to children by all divorces?

  • Are there factors that mitigate the harm?

  • Are the factors that exacerbate the harmful effects?

Concerning the early identification of high conflict situations.

This research is attempting to determine the feasibility of early identification and streaming of high conflict divorces.

  • Does your work give any indication of how early certain identifiable factors can be seen in high conflict divorcing families?

  • Does your work indicate what the effects of early identification of the conflict are for these families?

  • Does your work show whether there is any long-term benefit to these families of early identification?

Concerning the effectiveness of various models of streaming high conflict divorce families.

This research is exploring whether there is any proven benefit of streaming the high conflict families out of the normal processes of court litigation into alternative forms of dispute resolution.

  • Does your work show whether streaming models have any usefulness in working with high conflict families?

  • Are the benefits of streaming maintained over time or are they short-term benefits?

  • Are there particular models of dispute resolution best linked with particular kinds of conflict?

  • What are the benefits to children of having their parents streamed into alternative models of dispute resolution?

  • Are there any findings that indicate that mandatory programs are more or less effective than voluntary programs?
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