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What is divorce education and does it work?

parents arguing while teen sits on couchDivorce education is a form of parent education that is specifically designed for parents who are divorcing, separating, or experiencing changes in custody.

Divorce education emerged in the 1980s as a response to recognition that some families experience poorer outcomes during or after divorce and that with small gains in knowledge and behavior change by parents — outcomes can improve.

Most states have mandates that require parents experiencing a divorce, separation, or conflictual custody change to attend this targeted form of parent education with the goal of improving child and family outcomes. As of 2013, University of Minnesota Extension’s Parents Forever™ course was one of 20 Extension-based divorce education programs offered nationwide (Mulroy, Riffe, Brandon & Lo, 2013).

A meta-analysis conducted in 2011 found that divorce education programs are moderately effective in improving outcomes for parents and families but that programs needed to evaluate their effectiveness using more rigorous study designs to further bolster this claim (Fackrell, Hawkins, & Kay, 2011). Extension has evaluated Parents Forever™ extensively for over a decade.


Fackrell, T. A., Hawkins, A. J., & Kay, N. M. (2011). How Effective Are Court-Affiliated Divorcing Parents Education Programs? A Meta-Analytic Study. Family Court Review, 49(1), 107–119.

Mulroy, M. T., Riffe, J., Brandon, D., Lo, Y. A., & Vaidyanath, H. (2013). Serving the Needs of Separating and Divorcing Families: A National Survey of Extension Parenting Education Programs and Resources. Journal of Extension, 51(2).

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