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Helping children cope with divorce in Arizona

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Divorce is never easy, especially for young children. While it may not be possible to protect children from every pitfall, it is possible to make the transition from marriage to divorce easier. In an effort to understand what works, Arizona State University conducted a multi-year study. The study resulted in the creation of a program known as New Beginnings.

New Beginnings was developed for the specific purpose of reducing the number of children of divorce that enter mental health facilities and the criminal justice system. The accomplishments of this program may help parents build better relationships with their children. This includes working on communication and developing discipline strategies during a multi-week course.

The effects of the program have been rather profound. Researchers found a significant decrease in diagnosed mental disorders, lower levels of health problems and a reduction in alcohol and drug dependency in the children whose parents participated in the program. Researchers also found a significant increase in children's overall grade-point averages.

Due to the positive results of the initial study the program is now being offered in Coconino, Pima, Yuma and Maricopa counties. According to the professor who developed the program New Beginnings will be largely voluntary but some judges might require it. Ultimately, the hope is to launch New Beginnings statewide as a community resource for those who want it.

Too often emotions get overlooked during the divorce process. It is important to recognize how difficult ending a marriage can be on families. In addition to New Beginnings there are many ways to address the emotional needs of the various parties during a divorce. One way to learn about some of these resources is to speak with a family law attorney immediately.

Source: Arizona Daily Sun, "Hope for kids of divorce," Larry Hendricks, January 18, 2013

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