"There is no trust more sacred than the one the world holds with children.
There is no duty more important than ensuring that their rights are respected,
that their welfare is protected, that their lives are free from fear and want
and that they can grow up in peace."
Dear Prospective Clients, Students and Interested Professionals,
Welcome to the Resource Center for Separating and Divorcing Families (RCSDF)! We are pleased to announce that on September 3, 2013 we will open the doors of our new interdisciplinary resource center on the University of Denver campus. The RCSDF will provide comprehensive and affordable legal dispute resolution, therapeutic and educational services for separating and divorcing families in the Denver Metro area.
I have long been an advocate for looking at ways in which we as a community can help improve how our culture handles separation and divorce. The courts serve a vital function for separating and divorcing families with serious protection and/or enforcement issues, but there are many families who will benefit from reasonably priced services in a constructive and coordinated setting without extensive court involvement.
In the United States we know that:
- 40% - 50% of first-time U.S. marriages end in divorce;
- 53% of U.S. children are born outside of marriage; and
- 1 out of every 4 children lives in a divorced household.
While the numbers are staggering, families are often successful after separation or divorce. Research clearly indicates that those children from separating and divorcing families who receive consistent emotional support and modeling of healthy conflict resolution skills demonstrate fewer behavioral and psychological issues and overall better adjustment.
The goal of the RCSDF is to foster healthy family reorganization and out-of-court dispute resolution. While we will work with the courts, we will remain a separate, community-based service provider. We will provide affordable and accessible legal dispute resolution, counseling, educational, and financial planning services for transitioning parents and children. Services will be provided by graduate students working side by side with licensed attorneys, psychologists and social workers. RCSDF students and staff will seek to empower parents to make positive decisions about their family's future in a supportive and educational environment.
In addition to separation-related services, the RCSDF will provide state-of-the-art training to graduate students from various disciplines, and will elevate the training and services provided. This is accomplished by giving students feedback that encourages service refinement, involves families in the evaluation of service quality and satisfaction and, ultimately, respects each family's future while helping them to reorganize their past.
The Center is the first of its kind in the United States and I am confident that it will serve as a model across the country for communities seeking alternatives to the traditional adversarial model. We know that divorce is not only expensive, it also takes a toll on our economy. Research reports that people going through a separation or divorce are more likely to have employee absenteeism, depression, and financial problems. Divorce is not just a "family" issue, it is a community issue that has far-reaching implications for us all. I am pleased to have the opportunity to work on such an innovative and exciting project, and would like to thank the Denver-Metro area courts and who have enthusiastically agreed to come aboard.
A special thanks to the Honoring Families Initiative at IAALS, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, at the University of Denver for developing the model for the RCSDF, and to the Gates Frontiers Fund for funding our three-year pilot project. I also want to thank Dr. Marsha Kline Pruett and Professor Andrew Schepard for their invaluable assistance as consultants in the development and implementation of this model.
Melinda Taylor, Executive Director, RCSDF