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Monthly Archives: May 2012

Shared Parenting Strategies: Questions to Consider Before Creating a Shared Family Schedule

Before designing your plan, answering the following questions may help you focus on your family’s circumstances.

  • What responsibilities have each of you assumed for childcare prior to separation? For example, who has taken the children to school; helped with homework; scheduled and/or taken children to medical appointments?
  • How has each of you been involved in each child’s recreational activities such as sports, music, dance, or after school clubs?
  • What are the most important issues for each of your children; what do you believe are their individual needs?
  • What do you see as each of your strengths as a parent?
  • How do you want to share parental responsibilities for your children?
  • How do your children get along with each other? Should you consider spending some separate time with each of them?
  • Have you thought about your children’s preferences?
  • What will you have to do to put your children’s needs ahead of your own?
  • Can you protect your children from your own conflicts, disappointments and adult concerns?
  • Have you discussed with each other how and when to tell the children the details of your parenting plan?
 
 

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Shared Parenting Strategies: Creating a Shared Family Schedule

Since no research supports a given number of hours or days that children should spend with each parent, the information provided discusses what arrangements seem to work for other co-parents. As parents, you are in the best position to determine what schedule will meet the needs of your child.

Before designing a plan for your family, you should consider your own unique situation. The Family Assessment set out below will help you develop a framework for your individualized plan.

 

Raising children is difficult for all parents. When parents live in separate homes the challenges are greater because relationships are more complicated. Sometimes one parent disagrees about how much time a child should spend with the other. Before planning a time-sharing arrangement for your family, it is helpful to consider:

  •  The age, temperament and social adjustment of each child.
  • Any special needs of each child (medical, developmental, educational, emotional or social).
  • The quality of relationships between siblings and any other extended family members.
  • Each child’s daily schedule.
  • Care giving responsibilities of each parent before the separation.
  • How you would like to share responsibilities both now and in the future.
  • Availability of each parent as a caregiver.
  • Potential flexibility of each parent’s work schedule.
  • Distance between each parent’s home, workplace, and children’s schools.
  • The ability of parents to communicate and cooperate with each other.
  • The ability and willingness of each parent to learn basic care giving skills such as feeding, changing and bathing a young child; preparing a child for daycare or school; taking responsibility for helping with homework; assessing and attending to each child’s special emotional and social needs.

Often, someone who has not been an active parent prior to separation may wish to become more involved afterward. The initial parenting plan should allow that parent enough time to develop a closer relationship with the child, while at the same time recognizing the existing relationship. As the parent-child bond strengthens, changes can be made to the schedule.

These considerations should remain a basic reference as children move from one developmental stage to another and as time-sharing arrangements are modified from time to time.

 
 

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Shared Parenting Strategies: An Introduction

One of the most difficult challenges facing parents at the time of separation is deciding  how they will divide responsibility for and time with their children. Parents sometimes fear that loss of their adult relationship will also mean loss of their parent-child relationship. They are also concerned about the potential negative impact of their separation on their children’s healthy development.

 

Thanks to the large body of research completed over the last decade, we now have a better understanding of the impact of separation and divorce on children. Using this research makes it possible to better assess and meet their needs.

 

We now know that:

• Children do best when both parents have a stable and meaningful involvement in their children’s lives.

• Each parent has different and valuable contributions to make to their children’s  development.

• Children should have structured, routine time as well as unstructured time with each parent.

• Parents often find that it is better for their young children to spend more time with parents and less time with third-party caregivers, taking into consideration the number of transitions and the child’s need for stability. When both parents work, parents often begin planning their schedule with this in mind. A day-care provider or extended family member may be with the children most of the day, so parents should make every attempt to choose a mutually acceptable – and accessible – day-care provider.

• Parents should help their children maintain positive existing relationships, routines and activities.

• Communication and cooperation between parents are important in arranging children’s activities. Consistent rules and values in both households create a sense of security for children of any age.

• Parents should allow children to bring personal items back and forth between homes, no matter who purchased them.

• Parenting plans will need to be adjusted over time as each family member’s needs, schedules and circumstances change.

 

One of the most consistent research findings is that children are harmed when they are exposed to conflict between their parents. It is of critical importance that parents do not argue or fight when they are picking up or dropping off their children.

 
 

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Child Support in Connecticut: FAQs, Part III

11. Are there any Child Support Publications available?

  • Child Support and Arrearage Guidelinesavailable for free in court clerk’s offices and Court Service Centers in the Judicial District Courthouses, or call 1-800-228-KIDS or by email.
  • A Child Needs Emotional and Financial Support of Both Parents – available in English and Spanish at the offices of Support Enforcement Services.
  • How to Change Your Child Support Order – available in hard copy at all Support Enforcement Services offices, Judicial Court Clerk offices, Court Services Centers, Public Information Desks, Judicial Law Libraries.

12. My employee is subject to Income Withholding. What does that mean for me as the employer?

Employer Information
Child support is often collected through income withholding orders and is paid by the non-custodial parent’s employer out of the parent’s wages. Income subject to withholding may include:

  • Wages/salary/paychecks
  • Commissions
  • Bonuses
  • Unemployment compensation
  • Worker’s compensation insurance
  • Retirement benefits     

Employer Responsibilities
After an employer receives an income withholding order, the employer must:

  • Withhold money from income or wages as required by the court order.
  • Send payments within seven days of withholding the money from the employee’s wages or earnings to the State Disbursement Unit as indicated on the Withholding Order for Support (JD-FM-1).
  • Continue to withhold and send payments until you are notified by the court or a state agency that the withholding order is suspended or changed.
  • Honor multiple withholding orders for the same employee the fullest extent possible. The state will allocate the payment as appropriate.

13. What if there is an Income Withholding Order from another state?

  • As of January 1, 1998, Connecticut employers must honor Income Withholdings from other states in the same manner as if a Connecticut court issued them.
  • Upon receipt of an income withholding from another state, the employer must give the employee a copy of the income withholding order and a copy of the claim form.
  • The employer must implement the withholding order regardless of a claim made by the employee through the use of the claim form.
 
 

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Child Support in Connecticut: FAQs, Part II

6. How do I enforce a Child Support Order?
If you have applied for IV-D services, the Support Enforcement Services Unit will enforce your child support order in court using three tools:

  • Income Withholding – all child support orders may be collected through a court order to deduct money from the non-custodial parent’s income (Income includes wages, overtime pay, worker’s compensation, unemployment compensation, retirement benefits, etc.).
  • Contempt – the court finds that the non-custodial parent willfully failed to obey the court order. A person found in contempt may be ordered to pay a lump sum of money. The person also can be sent to jail (incarcerated) until a certain sum of money is paid.
  • License Suspension – the court finds the non-custodial parent failed to obey the court order and orders his or her driver’s license, professional, occupational license, or recreational license suspended after 30 days.

You may also hire an attorney to represent you and file court papers asking for a finding of contempt, or complete and file court papers for yourself (self-represented or “pro se”). The court papers you may need are the Application for Contempt Order, Income Withholding, and/or other Relief (JD-FM-15) or the Motion for Contempt (JD-FM-173).

7. What if the non-custodial parent lives out-of-state?
If the non-custodial parent moves out of state and the Support Enforcement Services Unit is already enforcing your case, the Unit will take the steps to collect child support from the out-of-state parent. Some of the available interstate enforcement tools include:

  • Direct income withholding (the filing of an income withholding with an out-of-state employer)
  • Registering your order in a new state to give the new state authority to enforce the order
  • Interstate real property liens
  • Seizure of financial assets
  • Referral to the U.S. Attorney for federal prosecution under the Child Support Recovery Act and Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act, 18 U.S.C. Section 228.

If you do not have a case with Support Enforcement Services, you can start an “interstate” child support case by contacting the Department of Social Services (DSS). DSS will assist you to establish a new court order or enforce an existing court order.
8. How can my order be enforced without going to court?

  • Federal and State Income Tax Offset (IV-D CASES ONLY): Past due child support orders monitored by the state are automatically matched against federal and state income tax returns every year. To be included in the match, the non-custodial parent must owe more than $500 if your children have never received public assistance. If your children have received public assistance, the amount past due must be $150 or more. The non-custodial parent will receive a written notice about the past due child support, proposing that his or her name be submitted for tax offset. The non-custodial parent has the right to contest the proposed tax offset. If the non-custodial parent’s name is submitted, his or her tax refund will be intercepted to pay the child support debt.
  • Consumer Credit Reporting (IV-D CASES ONLY): Overdue child support of more than $1000 is automatically reported to the major credit reporting agencies as an overdue debt on a monthly basis. The child support debt will be included on the non-custodial parent’s credit report. The non-custodial parent will receive a written notice about the overdue child support, proposing that his or her name be submitted to credit reporting agencies. The non-custodial parent has the right to contest the proposed reporting.
  • Liens against Property: Past due child support of more than $500 may be collected through a lien against the non-custodial parent’s real estate or personal property. When the property is sold, the child support debt will be paid out of the proceeds of the sale. In IV-D cases, the non-custodial parent will receive a written notice about the past due support and information that a lien has been filed on behalf of the custodial parent by the state. The non-custodial parent has the right to contest this action. NON-IV-D lien actions must be pursued privately.
  • Other Methods Used by the State to Collect Child Support in IV-D Cases Include: offsetting lottery winnings; seizure of bank accounts; offsetting federal payments (example: federal contracts); and, denying passport applications.


9. How do I change or modify a Child Support Order?
In Connecticut child support orders can only be changed (modified) by a judge or a family support magistrate. There are three ways to get your child support case to court for a hearing to ask a judge or family support magistrate to change your order: 1) ask Support Enforcement Services to assist; 2) hire an attorney; or 3) do it yourself. If you are asking for the modification, you must attend the court hearing or the judge or magistrate will not change the order.

Using Support Enforcement Services:
If you have a child support case with the state child support program, you may ask Support Enforcement Services (SES) in writing, by phone or by e-mail to review your court order to see if a change may be needed. If your court order is from Connecticut and either parents’ income has changed enough that the support order is at least 15% higher or lower than the amount required by the child support guidelines, then SES will prepare the court forms and tell you the court hearing date. SES can also assist you if there has been a change in either parents’ circumstances such as the receipt of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability (SSD), a change in custody or a change in incarceration status. If your court order is from another state, contact SES and ask how to change an out of state order. Please note that Support Enforcement Services employees are not attorneys and cannot represent either parent at court hearings.

Hiring an Attorney:

You may hire an attorney to file a motion for modification and represent you before the court.

Self Representation:

You may file a motion for modification and represent yourself in court (PRO SE).


10. How will I get my Child Support Payment?
Non IV-D Income Withholding customers must report name and address changes to SES Non IV-D,P.O. Box 65,Vernon,CT06066, or by calling 1-800-228-5437.

Services provided by the State Disbursement Unit (SDU):

The SDU is responsible for all functions associated with the processing of the income withholding payment. These responsibilities are governed by CGS sec. 52-362 and a contract between the SDU and the State ofConnecticut. In general, you can expect that the SDU will:

  • Deposit all payments collected pursuant to an income withholding within 24 hours
  • Distribute all payments collected pursuant to an income withholding within two business days
  • Allocate payments in proportion to support orders in situations where there are two or more income withholding orders levied against an individual
  • Answer payment inquiries via a toll-free telephone number
    (1-888-233-7223)

What the SDU needs from you (IV-D Customer)
To insure the prompt processing of your child’s support payment the SDU needs accurate and up-to-date information. Any changes to the information originally provided to the IV-D Program must be reported to the Support Enforcement Services Unit office handling your case. This includes:

  • Change in either the custodial or non-custodial parents’ names
  • Change of addresses
  • Change in the non-custodial parent’s employment, or source of income
  • Changes to the income withholding order (such as the amount of the current support or the establishment of an arrearage order)
  • Termination of the income withholding obligation

What the SDU needs from you (NON IV-D Customer)
Non IV-D Income Withholding customers must provide the state with information to allow for the creation of an account with the SDU. Non IV-D customers MUST complete a Case Input Record Non IV-D Income Withholding (JD-FM-150)) and mail it, along with a signed original Withholding Order for Support (JD-FM-1), to SES Non IV-D, P.O. Box 65, Vernon, CT 06066. The Non IV-D unit will create an account with the SDU and serve, via certified mail, the withholding order on the employer (or source of income).

Non IV-D Income Withholding customers must report name and address changes, in writing, to SES Non IV-D,P.O. Box 65,Vernon,CT06066.

Changes in employment or source of income, or changes to the income withholding order must be recorded on the CASE INPUT RECORD NON IV-D INCOME WITHHOLDING (JD-FM-150) and mailed to the PO Box listed above. The Non IV-D Unit will make the changes necessary for the SDU to accurately process your payment. Please refer to the instructions on the JD-FM-150 for further information.

Where can I send my child support payment?
All child support payments should be sent by mail to the State Disbursement Unit (SDU) at:

Connecticut – CCSPC
P.O. Box 990031
Hartford, CT 06199-0031

Employers send payments to:

Connecticut – CCSPC
P.O. Box 990032
Hartford, CT 06199-0032

* SDU payment information is available on the internet at http://www.ctchildsupport.com. Or you may contact them by telephone at 1-888-233-7223.

 
 

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Child Support in Connecticut: FAQs, Part I

1. Where can I find general information about Child Support Enforcement Services?
The Connecticut Child Support Enforcement Program (referred to as the “IV-D” program) is a cooperative effort between the Judicial and Executive Branches of Connecticut government. The primary Judicial Branch component of the IV-D program is the Support Enforcement Services Unit of the Court Operations Division.

The Support Enforcement Services Unit is responsible for the following aspects of Connecticut’s IV-D program:

  • Monitoring child support awards for compliance with financial, medical insurance and child care orders
  • Initiating court based enforcement actions such as income withholdings and contempt applications
  • Reviewing financial support orders and initiating modifications when the order substantially deviates from the Connecticut Child Support and Arrearage Guidelines, and filing modifications to add medical insurance orders
  • Serving as clerk of the court in interstate child support actions initiated under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA)

PLEASE NOTE – Use of the Child Support Enforcement Program is not mandatory. You may establish paternity and/or support and enforce court orders without the assistance of the IV-D program.

2. What is the IV-D Program?
The IV-D program (pronounced Four-D) is the technical name for government administered Child Support Enforcement Programs. The term ‘IV-D’ comes from Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, which is the program’s federal enabling statute. InConnecticut, a case is considered IV-D if the family has received public assistance benefits or if an application for services was filed with either the Department of Social Services or the Support Enforcement Unit.

Each state, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Ricoand other territories, have IV-D programs. All IV-D programs perform following activities:

  • Locating Non-custodial parents
  • Establishing paternity
  • Establishing support orders, both financial and medical
  • Enforcing support orders
  • Reviewing and adjusting support orders to ensure that the orders are appropriate
  • Providing payment processing services

3. How can I obtain case information?
If you receive full IV-D services, or if your support payment is paid through an income withholding order to the State Disbursement Unit (SDU), you may get case information by:

  • Calling VARS (Voice Activated Response System) for automated case information at 1-888-233-7223, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The SDU (State Disbursement Unit) may      also be contacted through VARS.
  • Calling your local Support Enforcement Services Unit office.
  • Contacting the Support Enforcement Services, Child Support Call Center at 1-800-228-KIDS (5437) Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.

4. How do I get Child Support?
You must have a court order to receive child support. A court order for child support establishes the monetary support order for your child(ren) as well as other orders for health insurance and child care. Even if the non-custodial parent is willing to sign a voluntary agreement to pay child support, it must be approved by a court. There are three ways to get a court order for child support:

  • Hire an attorney to pursue your case in court.
  • Represent yourself in court.
  • Apply for child support services (IV-D) offered by the State. Child support services are free of charge. Contact your regional office of the  Department of Social Services (DSS) for an application.

5. How are Support Orders calculated?
The courts use mandatory guidelines to make fair and consistent child support orders.

  • The Connecticut Child Support and Arrearage Guidelines are state regulations which provide a mathematical formula to set the child support payment amount. The Guidelines use the combined income of the mother and the father and the number of children to set a child support amount.
  • The court will also enter a medical insurance order for the minor children if it is available through an employer for a reasonable cost. The court may also order one or both parties to apply for, and maintain, medical coverage through the Husky Plan. The guidelines also provide for the allocation of un-reimbursed medical costs between the parties.
  • The guidelines also provide a mathematical formula for allocating qualified childcare costs between the parties.
  • Judges and family support magistrates must follow the guidelines unless they make an exception in their ruling and tell you why they are ordering a different amount. These exceptions are called “deviations.”
  • The amount of the child support order can change. Because child support payments are based on income, the support amount may change as the circumstances of the parents change.
 
 

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Operation Predator Protects Children from Dangers of Social Networking

Fifty-five individuals in 20 countries, including the United States, have been identified as part of a multi-agency, international operation targeting individuals using social networking groups to exchange child pornography. During the investigation, 12 children were also identified and removed from harm.

Information about the 55 targets was forwarded to the 20 countries where the targets are living. Six of the individuals identified are living in the United States. Investigations are still ongoing in many of the cases and more search warrants are anticipated.

Operation Laminar began in October 2010 as a covert online investigation by New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs’ (DIA) Censorship Compliance Unit, after they discovered significant amounts of child pornography being traded on social networking sites, including Facebook, Socialgo and grou.ps. DIA alerted Interpol’s Crimes Against Children team, who contacted U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Working with HSI’s Child Exploitation Investigations Unit, and with assistance from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, the joint investigation identified a large number of groups on Facebook, as well as the other social networking platforms, engaged in the display or distribution of child pornography.

The investigation was conducted with the support and assistance of Facebook officials. Some of the individuals targeted had already been referred to law enforcement as part of Facebook’s proactive efforts to ensure their platform is not used to sexually exploit children or further the sexual exploitation of children through the dissemination of child sexual abuse images.

“Operation Laminar demonstrates that when governments team up to attack the global distribution of images of child sexual abuse the success is real,” said ICE Director John Morton. “ICE will continue to work tirelessly with our international law enforcement partners to protect children wherever they live and to bring justice to criminals wherever they operate.”

Maarten Quivooy, general manager of New Zealand’s regulatory compliance operations, said the Internet had destroyed jurisdictional boundaries and that protecting children was a global responsibility to which DIA was committed.

“Distributing child sexual abuse images is an international crime requiring an international response,” he said. “Child sex abuse imagery is not a victimless crime as it involves real children forced into degrading acts.”

Praising New Zealand’s initiative in launching the original investigation, the head of Interpol’s Crimes Against Children Unit, Mick Moran, said the operation once again demonstrated the need for international cooperation.

“It is said that the Internet has no boundaries, but that does not mean that laws do not apply – that people committing offenses online will not be identified. There is no safe environment or anonymous area for individuals who think that they can trade and publish child abuse images online, as proved once again by this operation, which should serve as a warning to others – you will be caught,” he said. “While disrupting these networks is a significant part of the investigation, what is more important is that innocent children and, in some cases, babies have been rescued from physical abuse.”

The 55 key targets in Operation Laminar were identified as individuals who had actively created groups which distributed abusive material, posted images of children under the age of 13 being abused and had actively encouraged the sexual abuse of children through comments or video and photo postings.

The 20 countries where the identified targets live include Australia, Bosnia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, England, Finland, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Norway, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, The Netherlands, Tunisia, Turkey, the United States and Venezuela.

HSI’s Child Exploitation Investigations Unit investigates the transborder large scale production and distribution of images of child abuse, as well as individuals who travel abroad to engage in sex with minors. The Child Exploitation Investigations Unit employs the latest technology to collect evidence and track the activities of individuals and organized groups who sexually exploit children through the use of websites, chat rooms, newsgroups and peer-to-peer trading. These investigative activities are organized under Operation Predator, a program managed by the Child Exploitation Investigations Unit.

Operation Predator is a nationwide HSI initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who prey on children, including human traffickers, international sex tourists, Internet pornographers and foreign-national predators whose crimes make them deportable.

 
 

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Divorce Negatively Affects Children’s Test Scores and Social Skills

By Alan Mozes

Young children of divorce are not only more likely to suffer from anxiety, loneliness, low self-esteem and sadness, they experience long-lasting setbacks in interpersonal skills and math test scores, new research suggests.

Children do not fall behind their peers in these areas during the potentially disruptive period before their parents divorce, the study revealed. Instead, it’s after the split that kids seem to have the most trouble coping.

“Somewhat surprisingly, children of divorce do not experience detrimental setbacks in the pre-divorce period,” noted study author Hyun Sik Kim, a doctoral candidate in the department of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “From the divorce stage onward, however, children of divorce lag behind in math test scores and interpersonal social skills.”

“Children of divorce also show enhanced risk of internalizing problem behaviors characterized by anxiety, loneliness, low self-esteem and sadness,” Kim said.

While the negative impacts do not continue to worsen several years after the divorce, “there is no sign that children of divorce catch up with their counterparts, either,” he added.

The study is published in the June issue of the American Sociological Review.

In the study, Kim discussed how the fallout from divorce might harm childhood development.

Children may be stressed by an ongoing parental blame game or child custody conflicts. This stress could be compounded by the loss of stability when a child is shuttled between separate households or has to move to another region altogether, thus losing contact with his or her original network of friends.

In fact, Kim observed a dramatic change in family locations, suggesting that children of divorce were more likely to change schools.

Parents’ divorce-related depression might also play a role, as could economic strains when family income suddenly drops, he said.

In his research, Kim analyzed data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study on 3,600 children who entered kindergarten in 2008.

The children were tracked through fifth grade. Over that time, Kim compared children whose parents had gotten divorced while the child was in the first, second or third grade with the children of intact marriages.

Among the divorce group, Kim examined child development over three phases: the “pre-divorce” period from kindergarten to the 1st grade; the “divorce period” from 1st through 3rd grade; and the “post-divorce” period from 3rd through 5th grade.

Kim found that while a divorce is in progress, first, second and third-graders experience a dip in math test scores — a decline that holds steady once the divorce is final. Interpersonal skills also suffer during divorce, affecting a child’s ability to make and keep friends, and the ability to express feelings and opinions in a positive way.

On a positive note, however, Kim found that reading scores remain unaffected, and that children do not seem to be at a higher risk for “externalizing” problem behavior such as arguing, fighting or getting angry.

He also noted some limitations of the study, including that the children were followed after divorce for only two years.

“One implication of the study is that we need to intervene as soon as possible when we observe a child experiencing a parental divorce,” Kim said, “because my findings suggest that once children of divorce [have gone] through detrimental impacts, it is hard to make them catch up with children from intact families.”

Richard E. Lucas, an associate professor in the department of psychology atMichiganStateUniversity, said that longer-term research would be needed to see whether or not the apparent setbacks in kids’ math and social skills eventually dissipate.

“We definitely find that that major life events, such as divorce, can have a significant effect on an individual’s well-being,” he said. “So it’s not surprising that we see a timely reaction among these children.”

“But while some events have really long-lasting effects that actually seem to be permanent, others may persist for a few years but eventually return back to the baseline level [that was present] before the event occurred,” he added. “In this case, a much longer-term study would be called for to see if this particular dynamic unfolds in that way or not.”

 
 

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Programs to Help Children Cope with Divorce

Divorcing families who participated in a prevention program markedly reduced the likelihood of their children developing mental disorders as adolescents, say NIMH-funded scientists. Structured group sessions for mothers and children later halved rates of mental disorders in the teen years, among other benefits, in the first study to document long-term effects of such preventive interventions using a randomized experimental trial.

Prevalence of mental disorders rose to 23.5 percent among teens in families that did not receive active interventions, compared to only 11 percent in families who received the most comprehensive intervention. The program also reduced acting out, drug and alcohol use, and sexual promiscuity.

About 1.5 million children experience the divorce of their parents each year—ultimately 40 percent of all children. While most adapt well, 20-25 percent suffer significant adjustment problems as teenagers. The negative impact often persists into adulthood, resulting in nearly twice the normal prevalence of mental health problems and impaired educational attainment, socioeconomic and family well-being.

“The skills training program’s breadth of effect cut across multiple mental health, substance use and sexual behavior problems,” said Sandler. “It reduced the 1-year prevalence of mental disorder in these teens by 50 percent, boosting their chances of avoiding serious mental health problems by more than four-to-one.”

The divorcing families, with children then age 9-12, were randomly assigned to one of three preventive interventions for mothers and their children, conducted in the Phoenix area New Beginnings Program in 1992-1993:

Mother Program—11 group sessions in which two clinicians focused on improving the mother-child relationship, discipline, increasing father’s access to the child, and reducing conflict between the parents. Each mother also had two structured individual sessions.

Mother Plus Child Program—the mother program, plus 11 structured group sessions for children, designed to improve coping, the mother-child relationship, and reduce negative thoughts. Based on social-cognitive theory, the children learned to label feelings, solve problems, and to reframe their thinking in a positive way in dealing with the stress of divorce.

Literature Control condition—mothers and children each received three books on divorce adjustment.

After 6 years, the researchers followed up 91 percent of the families, whose children then averaged nearly 17 years old. Eighty percent of the teens were living with their mothers. The two active interventions led to more favorable outcomes than the control condition for all problems assessed. Effects proved greatest for children who entered the study with the most problems. Although the Mother and Mother Plus Child Programs finished in a statistical dead heat overall, each showed certain strengths.

When evaluated 6 months after the trial, children who had started out at highest risk of externalizing problems—aggression, hostility—had benefited from the Mother Program and the Mother Plus Child Program. At the six-year follow-up, the Mother Program also led to significantly less alcohol, marijuana, and other drug use for those who were initially at higher risk. Teens who had been in the Literature Control condition had more than twice as many sexual partners as those exposed to the Mother Plus Child Program. Again, the latter group also showed a significantly reduced 1-year prevalence of mental disorders; the odds of Literature Control condition teens having a mental disorder diagnosis were 4.50 times higher.

“The impact of the programs on reducing externalizing problems is especially noteworthy,” said Wolchik. “Children of divorce are at high risk for these problems, which have high individual and social costs. Skill-building programs to help mothers and children during difficult times can have a long-term positive impact.”

Other researchers participating in the study were: Drs. Roger Millsap, Brett Plummer, Shannon Greene, Edward Anderson, and Spring Dawson-McClure, Kathleen Hipke, Rachel Haine, Arizona State University.

 
 

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A Parent’s Worst Nightmare: “Red Flag” Signs that Your Child May be Abducted

How can you tell if there is a risk of abduction? Consider the list of “red flag” indicators of abduction risk and six personality profiles listed below. One caveat is the absence of these indicators does not mean an abduction will not occur and their presence does not guarantee an abduction will occur. There may be an increased likelihood of abduction if a parent has:

  •  Previously abducted or threatened to abduct your child
  • No strong ties to the jurisdiction in which your child lives
  • Friends or relatives living in another state, territory, or country
  • A strong support network
  • No job, is able to work anywhere, or is financially independent – in other words is not tied to the area for financial reasons
  • Engaged in planning activities such as quitting a job; selling a home; terminating a lease; closing a bank account or liquidating other assets; hiding or destroying documents; applying for a passport and/or visa, birth certificates, school or medical records; purchasing airline tickets for your child; or undergoing plastic surgery to materially alter appearance
  • Experienced a change in immigration status affecting his or her right to remain in this country
  • A history of marital instability, lack of cooperation with the other parent, domestic violence, or child abuse
  • A criminal record

While there may be no way to know for sure if a parent will abduct his or her child, six personality profiles have been identified by social scientists that may be helpful in predicting which parents may pose a risk of abduction.

  • Profile l: Parents who have threatened to  abduct or abducted previously
  • Profile 2: Parents who suspect or believe abuse has occurred and friends and relatives support these beliefs
  • Profile 3: Parents who are paranoid delusional
  • Profile 4: Parents who are severely sociopathic
  • Profile 5: Parents who are citizens of another country, or dual citizens of the United States and another country, with strong ties to the country of origin and in a mixed-culture      marriage that is ending
  • Profile 6: Parents who feel alienated from the legal system and have family/social support in another community
 
 

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