FSU Researchers Receive Grant to Develop Co-Parenting Toolkit

April 28, 2015

Approximately one quarter of families in the United States are composed of a single parent with children under the age of 18. Additionally, over one million children per year experience their parents’ divorce. Children are healthier and better-adjusted when their parents deal well with conflict and keep the children’s wellbeing as a priority. Florida State University has recently received a grant for a project to help parents develop skills that will help them with conflict resolution and co-parenting.

The Successful Co-Parenting After Divorce project is being developed by a group from FSU’s College of Education, College of Social Work, and College of Communication and Information. The group of researchers has received a $250,000 grant from the Vandermark Foundation to create an online toolkit to help divorced parents resolve conflict and develop good co-parenting skills.

The Program

For the toolkit, a group of staff, students, and faculty at FSU are preparing a series of videos to help educate parents about co-parenting skills and foster a healthy environment for children. The videos will model co-parenting strategies and will include testimonials from real parents about the benefits of co-parenting and communication.

Objectives

The objectives of the program are to:

  • Educate families about the effect that conflict and divorce can have on the family,
  • Educate families about the benefits of co-parenting,
  • Encourage healthy co-parenting through communication and strategies to reduce conflict, and
  • Train professionals who work with divorcing couples, such as mental health professionals, attorneys, and others, on co-parenting methods and strategies.
Florida Parenting Education Courses

The effects of divorce on children include economic, emotional, and educational issues, for both the short and the long term. These problems are aggravated when the parents have extended legal conflict. Thus, Florida law requires that divorcing couples who have minor children complete a parenting course to educate and train the parents about these consequences of divorce.

Parenting courses provide information regarding:

  • The legal aspects of resolving issues relating to children,
  • The emotional experiences faced by divorcing adults,
  • The emotional effects of divorce on children,
  • Family relationships,
  • A parent’s financial responsibilities to children,
  • Issues surrounding spousal or child abuse or neglect, and
  • Education regarding relationship skills.

The Florida Department of Children and Families approves these parent education and family stabilization courses, which must be at least four hours and meet other standards, such as giving information about abuse and neglect and how to contact organizations helping with such problems.

The FSU researchers plan to try to get the program certified as an approved mandatory parenting program in both Florida and Massachusetts. They hope to possibly expand the program to every state that mandates parenting education for divorcing couples.

FSU’s program will be available for free to divorcing families and also to family members, mental health professionals, and lawyers who help families navigate divorce and co-parenting.

Divorce is stressful on children, but parenting education courses can help parents learn information and skills to resolve conflict and provide a healthy atmosphere for their children. If you are considering divorce, please contact West Palm Beach family law attorney William Wallshein for a free initial consultation.