the majority recommended continuation of the conciliation programme. They took this view as mediation “helped to clarify and narrow the issues, facilitate dispute resolution, avoid unnecessary litigation and reduce the emotional turmoil experienced by clients”.1103
Parent education programmes
10.39In the 1980’s, voluntary and court ordered parent education programmes started to grow in the United States.1104 Increasingly judges have supported these programmes and the legal community has also become more supportive by making referrals. Attendance by parents has grown to the extent that there are now 560 programmes in 40 states.1105 In 1995 draft legislation was being considered in Texas, Colorado, South Carolina, Washington and Arizona.1106 There are various goals of the programmes:
(1) Parent focused goals, for example, teaching parenting skills at the time of divorce,
(2) child focused goals, for example, increased awareness of the impact of divorce on children, and
(3)court focused goals, for example, to help resolve custody and access issues.
10.40The fact that the research literature has shown the negative impact of conflict in divorce on children has favoured the growth of parent education programmes. The programmes emphasise the psychological process of divorce. All the programmes deal with post-divorce reaction of parents and children, children’s needs at different ages and the benefit of co-operative parents after divorce. However, the majority of children do not receive counselling in the programmes.
10.41Only a few give legal information. Up to 55% of programmes have developed special programmes for victims of domestic abuse.1107 When the programmes address emotional issues they are presented by mental health professionals. Other presenters include lawyers, mediators and community volunteers. There are certain standard packages that include videos, pamphlets and other simple literature that assist professionals in teaching the programmes. About 70% charge a fixed fee.1108
1103 Alberta Research Paper no. 20 supra at 48.
1104 Salem et al, “Parent Education as a distinct field of practice - the agenda for the future”, Family and Conciliation Courts Review, Vol. 34, No.1, January 1996, 9.
1105 Braver et al, “The content of Divorce Education Programs”. Family and Conciliation Courts Review, vol 34, No.1, January 1996, 41.
1106 Draft legislation in Arizona was not passed in the legislature though it was in Connecticut. See Bondi, “Legal Implementation of Parent Education Programs for Divorcing and Separating Parents”, Family and Conciliation Courts Review, vol. 34, No.1, January 1996, at 86.
1107 Braver et al’s survey at 15.
1108 Braver et al at 45.