Coparenting Interventions for Fragile Families: What Do We Know and Where Do We Need To Go Next?

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With a large and growing share of American families now forming outside of marriage, triangular infant-mother-father relationship systems in "fragile families" have begun to attract the interest of family scholars and clinicians. A relatively novel conceptualization has concerned the feasibility of intervening to support the development of a sustained and positive coparenting alliance between mothers and fathers who have not made an enduring relationship commitment to one another. At this point in time, there are very few published outcome studies of programs explicitly conceived to help build coparenting alliances in such families. This article reviews what we currently know from this evolving field of study, and from those related responsible fatherhood and marriage and relationship enhancement (MRE) initiatives that included any explicit targeting, strengthening, and assessment of fragile family coparenting in their designs. We summarize lessons learned thus far from Access and Visitation (AV) programs for non-residential fathers, from MRE programs for low-income, unmarried couples, and from newer programs for fragile families directly designed to target and support coparenting per se. We close with recommendations for charting this important new family process terrain.

Related Topics

  • Behavioral Health
  • Child Welfare
  • Fathers/Partners
  • Parenting
  • Trauma
  • Treatment Models