Alternative Separation-Divorce (S-D) Care

Separation-Divorce (S-D) Care

A standard definition for the word "care" is: "that which is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance, and protection of someone or something". Separation-divorce care (S-D care) is care that is rendered to children, parents, and families prior to, during, and after separation and divorce.

In general, there are two kinds of S-D care: 1) traditional S-D care, and 2) alternative S-D care. Traditional S-D care has a long history that starts in antiquity, and has gradually evolved into a complex and confusing array of public and private sector activities. In the USA, it is supervised by approximately 3,300 local family courts that revolve around the opinions of judges and lawyers, and that vary widely in standards of practice. In contrast, alternative S-D care has a short history, much of which is an outgrowth of the failures of traditional S-D care. Alternative S-D care uses scientifically tested, and psychologically valid, mechanisms that are focused on children, parents, and families. Since the emphasis in alternative S-D care is on evidence-based interventions that can be shown to be effective, alternative S-D care is much more precise, supportable, and cost effective.

Traditional versus Alternative Approaches to S-D Care
Traditional S-D care is mostly provided by legal practitioners who present antagonistic, inflexible solutions in a court atmosphere. Traditional S-D care is extremely expensive, and, as a result of its high expense, fully covers only small parts of the target population (parents). Parents who are unable to obtain coverage through traditional S-D care, but who require attention, are handled in a patchwork of non-represented court appearances, government agencies, and programs that are typically based on observations provided by local social services agencies and schools. As a result, most traditional S-D care is not overseen by a medically or psychologically qualified individual.

In contrast, in alternative S-D care, scientific practitioners find mutually agreeable, flexible, and changeable solutions. Alternative S-D care is relatively inexpensive, and, as a result of its cost effectiveness, is available to a much wider portion of the target population (children, parents, and families, in that order). In alternative S-D care, children/parents/families are overseen by individuals who are trained in the medical and psychological sciences and/or closely related fields.

Characteristic of Care
Traditional S-D Care
Alternative S-D Care
Primary care organization
Family court
Non-family court
Treatment style
Problem oriented
Secondary care organizations
Local legal community, Social services, Schools
Local scientific community, Parents
Priority of treatment
Children, Parents, and Families in that order
Child care specialists
Typically consists of court-appointed, non-community based practitioners who are selected by judges
Community-based medical and psychological practitioners
Extremely high
Cost effective
Philosophy of treatment
Parental interaction
Changeability of solutions
Flexibility is an ongoing goal of treatment
Child protection
None ever demonstrated
Child protection is an ongoing goal of treatment

The objective of alternative S-D care is to promote non-legalistic, cost-effective, non-confrontational solutions. It starts by identifying services in the local community that emphasize the best alternatives available for both children and parents of divorce. Thus, the first key step in implementing alternative S-D care in a community is to rate the available services according to their compliance with alternative care principles. Alternative care principles in turn assert that the best S-D care alternatives are based on non-judgmental, non-accusatory supportive care for children, parents, and families. Early results for alternative S-D care indicate that it is associated with beneficial short-term and long-term outcomes, and with a decrease in short-term and long-term adverse consequences.

FCS promotes the establishment of local alternative S-D care networks in 3 steps:

1. Identification of effective and price conscious alternative S-D care providers by:
   Identifying the key characteristics that are associated with good alternative S-D care providers.
   Developing rating systems, algorithms, and other similar tools which measure where providers lie on the standard alternative
   S-D care spectrum.
   Publishing ratings that allow consumers to reliably choose alternative S-D care.

2. Identification of S-D information of interest by:
   Scanning and presenting current news items of interest.
   Performing summaries and reviews of the published scientific and legal literature pertinent to S-D care.
   Organizing consensus conferences and commissioning well-designed studies that test S-D care hypotheses.

3. Development of advocacy and feedback mechanisms that promote alternative S-D care by:
   Developing and publishing standards of S-D care.
   Developing feedback systems aimed at judges, administrators, politicians, and other public and private participants.