Department of Family Therapy Dissertations and Applied Clinical Projects

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Family Therapy


Anne H. Rambo

Committee Member

Christine A. Beliard

Committee Member

Tommie V. Boyd


Divorce itself is a traumatic experience for everyone involved, especially the children. Studies have been conducted to focus on the effects on children, and ways to help with adjustment. Furthermore, researchers have delved into the long-term effects parental divorce has on children. Collaborative divorce is an approach to divorce that utilizes a specially trained team of family law, financial, and mental health professionals (MHPs) working together with couples to resolve issues related to the dissolution of their marriage, the co-parenting of their children, and the restructuring of their lives–without involving the court system. Some of the aspects of a collaborative divorce include a mental health professional working with the family, less conflict between the divorcing couple, and the presence of effective co-parenting.

There is a lack of exploration into identifying if collaborative divorce aspects are present or not as adult children adjusted to parental divorce after utilizing do-it-yourself divorce, mediation, litigation, or a collaborative divorce. Using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) in this study, five participants were interviewed to explore the presence or absence of collaborative divorce aspects during a parental divorce and examine the child’s adjustment into adulthood. Results of this study included the emergence of six primary themes: “child of parental divorce: adjustment,” “conflictual divorce,” “qualities of a peaceful divorce,” “co-parenting: being present,” “to seek therapy or not,” and “effects of parental divorce on relationships.” The study findings helped to narrow the gap in the existing research on the presence or absence of collaborative divorce aspects in the adjustment of children of parental divorce.