Supporting the Nation's Judicial System & the Public it Serves

SJI Grantee Spotlights

FEATURED May 1, 2024

Judges in family courts handle the complex dynamics of familial conflicts, particularly in cases involving high parental conflict. Parenting education is essential, serving as a vital tool to ensure children’s well-being during parental separations and promote smoother family transitions.

“The Families in Transition (FIT) Parenting Course,” a 1.5-hour online program designed to complement existing parenting education programs, was created in 2023. This course forms part of a broader case management strategy to assist families in high conflict.

“Exposure to parental conflict poses a serious health risk to children and addressing those issues drain resources if the courts.”

-Judge Bruce R. Cohen, the former presiding judge of the family court division of the Maricopa County Superior Court in Arizona

The FIT program, which was conceived by Judge Cohen, recognizes that in many circumstances, parental conflict is a behavioral issue that for many families is resolvable through programs like FIT.  When successful, FIT can free up resources for cases where parental conflict and dysfunction is a byproduct of underlying mental health or domestic violence issues, which need additional support.

A March 2024 study by Arizona State University confirmed FIT’s effectiveness in significantly reducing conflict behaviors. Since its introduction in Arizona in January 2024, nearly 300 referrals have been made to FIT, with about 200 certificates being filed with the court.

Future plans include expanding national access to the program so that FIT can be offered at no cost to parties. Plans include offering FIT in Spanish, and other languages.

The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) is hosting a national “watch party” in mid-May 2024 to convene courts interested in implementing FIT.

For more information or to participate in the watch party, visit the Families in Transition or contact adavis@ncsc.org.