Love/hate and loving hate: A window into entrenched post separation parenting disputes
‘High-conflict’ divorce cases have been consistently identified as difficult, complex, time consuming, and costly. They place great strain on families, practitioners, courts, and the family law and child support systems more broadly. There is an emerging view, however, that the term ‘high-conflict’ can oversimplify the nature of destructive family dynamics, especially with respect to the small but resource-intensive group of separated parents who remain deeply enmeshed in legal battles and parental acrimony. In this workshop we explore ‘interparental hatred’ as a key relationship dynamic driving the behaviour of some in this group – with a focus on the impact of this pernicious dynamic on children, parents, and practitioners themselves.
In this session, presenters will (a) explore post-separation entrenched hatred from a range of theoretical frameworks; (b) set out some of the challenges of working with interparental hatred; and (c) discuss several strategies for practitioners working with parents whose interactions with each other are dominated by hatred.
The session will be interactive, and involve case studies, discussion and child-sensitive insights.
The three presenters love working together and don’t do it enough.
Professor Jennifer McIntosh AM is a clinical and developmental psychologist, family therapist, and researcher. She is the founding director of ChildrenBeyondDispute.com, a specialist online training portal.
Jennifer is Professor of Psychology at Deakin University, where she leads the perinatal science stream of the Centre for Social and Early Emotional Development, Fellow of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, and Senior Fellow of the University of Melbourne. In these roles, she directs the Melbourne Attachment and Caregiving Lab (the ATP MAC Lab) and oversees two nested studies of attachment development within Australia’s oldest longitudinal study: the Australian Temperament Project. She is also Fellow of the University of Melbourne, Dept. of Paediatrics, and Fellow of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.
In 2011, she was recipient of the AFCC Stanley Cohen Distinguished Research Award. This international award recognizes outstanding research and/or research achievements in the field of family law and divorce. In 2019, she was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia in the Australia Day Honours, for her contributions to developmental psychology.
Jennifer’s 33 year career has been devoted to attachment and care-giving, focused on families experiencing trauma or transition, and the support of professionals who work with them. Her efforts have continuously focused on finding therapeutic directions to support care-giving capacities and reflective functioning in parents. Jennifer has specialised in the development of interventions for separated families in high conflict. She is known internationally for the development of the Child Inclusive Mediation process, supported by a four year, prospective longitudinal study of outcomes, research which is now well replicated in two other countries. Three studies for the Family Court of Australia explored the impacts on parental functioning and child well-being of a less adversarial Court process in New South Wales, and of a Child Responsive Court process in Melbourne.
McIntosh has also authored the Family Law DOORS (Detection of Overall Risk) screening tool. She is on the Editorial Boards of the Family Court Review and Journal of Family Studies. Through more than 70 publications, McIntosh has had a substantial impact on both policy and practice formation in Australian and international Family Law.
Professor Lawrie Moloney has practised as a psychologist in private practice and in a variety of settings, including the National Health Service (Scotland) Bouverie Family Centre, the Family Court of Australia and Swinburne University. He taught counselling psychology a La Trobe University for twenty years and was a Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Institute of Family Studies until ‘retirement’ in 2017. Lawrie’s professional interests include exploring models of evidence based practice in counselling and psychotherapy and promoting better-targeted services for separated parents who find themselves in conflict over the care of their children.
Bruce Smyth is Professor of Family Studies with the Centre for Social Research & Methods, Australian National University in Canberra. He has published widely on post-separation parenting, especially shared-time parenting. His current projects include: the high-conflict post-divorce shared-time family; naming and working with entrenched inter-parental hatred (with Prof Lawrie Moloney & Dr Steven Demby); the meaning of home to children and young people (with Prof Belinda Fehlberg [lead CI], A/Prof Kris Natalier & Dr Monica Campo); and a mapping exercise of divorce smartphone apps in Australia (also with Prof Belinda Fehlberg).