Date of Completion


Embargo Period



High Conflict Parents; High Conflict Divorce

Major Advisor

Ronald Sabatelli, PhD

Associate Advisor

JoAnn Robinson, PhD

Associate Advisor

Beth Russell, PhD

Associate Advisor

Shayne Anderson, PhD

Field of Study

Human Development and Family Studies


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


High conflict co-parents engage in recurrent litigation (Neff & Cooper, 2004) that significantly strains the court system and exacerbates their conflict (Kelly, 2004; Haddad, Philips, & Bone, 2016). To date, few studies have been conducted to evaluate programs designed to reduce the conflict and recurrent litigation that occurs when high conflict couples engage in custody proceedings. Those evaluations that do exist are limited by small sample sizes, lack of comparison groups, lack of significance testing, and/ordo not include relevant methodological information for replication. Using a quasi-experimental design, the present study compared court involvement and the proportion of parenting cases whoreached an agreement among high conflict parents who received three different court services, with particularfocus on two novel targeted services that were designedfor high conflict parents. The study also surveyed Family Relations Counselors (FRCs) who implemented Online-ICM to gain insight on their perspectives of ICM’s effectiveness, challenges, and their perceptions of factors that influence participant responsivity and engagement. Court data were providedon 318 parenting cases who were referredto one of these services between 2015-2018. Results demonstrated that there were no significant differences between groups in the change in numberof court negotiations, child-related issues, or court services over time from before to after-intervention completion. There were also no significant between-group differences in the proportion of parenting cases whoreached an agreement. There was a significant reduction in parents’ court involvement from before to after-intervention completion for all three services. Overall, FRCs survey responses were favorable towards Online-ICM, with the majority of FRCs reporting that it was more effective than other court services at reducing parents court involvement and at achieving long-term change. Findings are discussed in the context of study limitations and research on program evaluation best practices. Recommendations are provided that all courts must consider when developing, piloting, and evaluating services for high conflict parents.