Randomized control trial: Online parent program and waiting period for unmarried parents in Title IV-D court

Dec 2015 | Rudd, B. N., Holtzworth-Munroe, A., Reyome, J. G., Applegate, A. G., & D'Onofrio, B. M.

Abstract: Despite a lack of research on parent education programs for unmarried parents, many judicial officers mandate participation. We recruited an understudied sample likely at high risk for negative outcomes—182 court cases involving unmarried parents on government assistance in which paternity was contested and then established via genetic testing ordered by the court. This 2 × 2 randomized controlled trial evaluated the impact on initial litigation outcomes of two factors: (a) participation in an online parent education program or not and (b) having a waiting period between the establishment of paternity and the court hearing concerning child-related issues or not. Using an intent-to-treat framework, we found that among cases not assigned to the program, there was no difference in the rate of full agreement on child-related issues (e.g., child support, custody, parenting time) when comparing cases assigned to a waiting period and cases not assigned to a waiting period. In contrast, for cases assigned to the program, cases also assigned a waiting period were less likely to reach a full agreement than cases that had their hearing on the same day. In addition, cases in the “program and waiting period” condition were less likely to return to court for their hearing than cases in the “no program and waiting period” condition. In exploratory analyses of the subsample of cases in which both parents were present at the court hearing, the pattern of results remained the same, although the findings were no longer statistically significant. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)

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