Perspectives on the Divorce Process: Parental Perceptions of the Legal System and Its
Impact on Family Relations .
M. K. Pruett and T. D. Jackson,
Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law
29(1): 18-28, 2001.
Through semistructured interviews, divorcing parents provide a consumer
perspective of the legal process of divorce discussed in law and mental health literature. The
parents offer a heightened awareness of families' basic needs within the legal system that may
otherwise be overlooked by professionals. This article focuses on narrative accounts provided by
41 divorcing parents to describe both their positive and negative experiences with the legal system
and court-related professionals. Although many parents entered the divorce process with hopes
for a fair and reasonable experience and outcome, only 12 percent of the parents ended the
process with positive expectations. Parents conveyed feelings of a lack of power and control over
divorce outcomes. The responses from parents provide valuable insight into how reforms of the
legal system can be structured best to increase the quality of the process and ameliorate
potentially destructive effects of divorce on the family.