Emotional readiness to co-parent

News

The ability to make effective co-parenting agreements and reduce conflict following divorce depends on a person’s emotional state or readiness (Barlow et al., 2014). 

Working in collaboration with theUniversity of Sheffield, we prepared an article for Family Court Review to outline OnePlusOne’s development and piloting of an EmotionalReadiness Assessment and subsequent digital tool. It comprises a summary of a literature review to identify the key emotions experienced during separation and their influence on making effective childcare arrangements, item development derived from the review and expert consultation, feedback from separated parents regarding sources of support, practitioners’ feedback regarding the tool’s feasibility, and concordance between mediator comments and clients’ scores on the tool. Ways of using this tool in practice and implications for further development are also discussed.

Main conclusion: 

Responding to evidence that the ability to make effective financial arrangements, develop co-parenting agreements, and reduce conflict following divorce depends on a person’s emotional readiness (Barlow et al., 2014), OnePlusOne reviewed the psychological literature on the emotional states of separating couples with the aim of developing a simple scale for assessing the emotional readiness of separating parties.

In the paper we describe creating and testing the Emotional Readiness Assessment and demonstrate that it may be a useful measure to assess separating parents’ readiness to make childcare arrangements with their ex-partner. We have shown that the cut-off values (low, medium, and high emotional readiness) proposed yield meaningful, qualitatively distinct categories.  This is both in terms of the support highlighted as useful by separated parents, and the professional opinions of mediators regarding the level of readiness of the separating parents they work with.

Key Points for the FamilyCourt Community:

·      The ability to make effective co-parenting agreements and reduce conflict following divorce depends on a person’s emotional state or readiness.

·      Establishing the extent of separating parents’ emotional readiness would enable practitioners to signpost to appropriate support and to pathways that facilitate successful dispute resolution and effective co-parenting.

·      The Emotional Readiness Scale appears to be a useful and practical measure to assess separating parents’ readiness to make childcare arrangements with their ex-partner.

·      The Emotional Readiness Tool, a digitised version of this scale is currently available.

·      Ongoing research into the outcomes associated with different levels of emotional readiness and the dyadic nature of the construct is planned.

Working with CAFCASS:

Recently OPO has provided an online co-parent hub for Cafcass service users. This includes specialist content from both OPO and Cafcass, designed to support face-to-face services such as the Separated Parenting Information Programme (SPIP), a course for separating parents. The Emotional Readiness Assessment, the development of which is described in the article, is the basis for a digital EmotionalReadiness Tool is part of the specialist content pieces that Cafcass selected for their online co-parent hub.

The importance of being emotionally ready to agree on childcare arrangements following separation was highlighted by a ground breaking UK study, Mapping Paths to FamilyJustice(Barlow, Hunter, Smithson, & Ewing, 2014).

If you have an account with Wiley, you can see the full report here : https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/fcre.12426  

Citation: Houlston, C., Millings, A., Mansfield, P., and Hirst, S.L.(2019). Development and practical use of an Emotional Readiness Assessment for support in family justice processes. Family Court Review. 57(3),332-341. https://doi.org/10.1111/fcre.12426

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