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.