University of Denver

Divorcing Together

Report on an Interdisciplinary Out-of-Court Approach to Separation and Divorce
Director of Research

Every year, millions of married couples decide to divorce. The legal system provides a means for sorting out financial issues, dividing assets, dissolving the legal relationship, and setting arrangements for the children; however, it is well established that the adversarial nature of divorce can present a number of psychological challenges for parents and children alike. Furthermore, families often need help in planning for their futures and addressing other problems as they transition. The legal system is neither designed nor equipped to provide families with the support and guidance necessary to address those transitional issues.

‚ÄčIn response to these realities, IAALS developed an interdisciplinary out-of-court model to provide a comprehensive set of legal and therapeutic services to separating and divorcing families. The model provided families the opportunity to complete the divorce process without ever having to go to court. Initially implemented on the University of Denver campus, the Center for Out-of-Court Divorce eventually moved into the Denver community where it served families until 2017.

This report presents insights into the model as well as data from a robust evaluation on how the two interations of the Center operated. The evaluation assessed many aspects of the process, including the population served, utilization of services, program timeline, and impact on families.

We hope that this report will serve as an informational resource, both in terms of successes and lessons learned, to guide future implementation of this model and similar models.