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An evaluation of court-mandated parent education program for divorcing and separating parents

26 July 1999


This empirical evaluation assesses the effectiveness of a court-mandated divorce education program for parents in Clackamas and Multnomah Counties, Oregon. The parent-focused goals of the program are evaluated in this study and include reducing conflict, increasing communication skills, and developing a parenting plan. 331 course participants from 12 classes (6 in each county) were surveyed; half received the questionnaire prior to the class, and half completed the survey immediately after the class. 52 of these participants were randomly selected for a follow-up telephone interview 6-months after the class. Statistical analyses revealed no significant changes after the class regarding attitudes towards the child, the other parent, or the .. self. No behavioral changes were found 6-months after the class with regard to parental conflict or communication skills. However, an increase in frequency of placing the child in the middle of conflict was observed 6-months after the class (F(1 ,25)=-2.48, p< .02). Parental levels of empathy and hostility towards the other parent explained variance in the intensity of parental conflict (F(3, 45) = 102.456, p < .001) and use of communication and conflict resolution skills (F(3, 45) = 492.830, p< .001). Lower levels of conflict and hostility correlated with higher likelihood of developing a parenting plan (r = .3463, p. < .02) and (r = .2978, p. < .05), respectively). Although these results suggest this program does not appear to .effect behavioral or attitudinal changes for the parents, they point to precipitators of desired behavioral outcomes and thereby provide a basis for proposed programmatic changes. Recommendations are provided for further study and revisions for the program.


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