RESOURCES & LINKS
I. Santa Barbara Divorce: A Six-Year Longitudinal Study.
This is a report on an investigation of what really happens to the divorcing population of South Santa Barbara County. Maybe it applies to other jurisdictions and maybe it doesn’t. But it is a definitive description of Santa Barbara Divorce. It started with the first 358 sequentially filed cases in South County in 1977. The Clerk’s file for each case was mined for data to show what happened over a period of six years, a period when the Court’s family law calendar was continually current.
What follows is an extraordinary claim: ANYONE who reads this sixteen-page Report and the Appendix II that goes with it, WILL KNOW MORE about divorce in South County Santa Barbara, than ANYONE knows about divorce in ANY other American jurisdiction.
The study followed each of the first 356 cases filed in Santa Barbara for six years. Because the court file for each case was physically examined the survey is properly referred to as a CENSUS. The study is unique because it took as the starting point of each case, the physical date of separation, which requires examination of the case documents rather than the date the Petition was filed, which is available on various indices. The subject of the study was unusual because it was one of the few jurisdictions – anywhere – that maintained a current family law calendar for the period of the study. Thus, the finding that the average Interval of 29.9 months from separation to Entry of Judgment could not be attributed to court delay.
Appendix II: A Six-Year Longitudinal Study>. The first study yielded findings that were surprising only because they were so close to what was suspected on the basis of undisciplined observation, but they described only one cohort of cases filed during a six month period. Where they representative of the Santa Barbara divorcing population in other years? A so-called Replication Study followed a random sample taken from the first 356 cases filed in 2001 and followed through 2007. The average Interval for this cohort was remarkable 28.5 months compared to the 29.9 month finding in the Census.
The best practice with this kind of research is to post all of the data collected to others look for errors in its collection or reporting or to offer alternative explanations for its content. This practice seems to be observed mostly in its breach. Here, however, we’ve posted our data in its raw form together with the same material at every step leading to its final tabulation and analysis. We’ve also posted our working bibliography, and various exhibits prepared to describe the findings and an explanation that accounts for them. This is a particularly rich link.
The methodology used in the both the Census and the Replication Study were the subject of a peer reviewed article written with Samuel Frame, an associate professor of Statistics at California State University at San Luis Obispo. This is heavy reading. If you link to it, you will be one of the first.
Once the Report on the Census and the Appendix II were published locally, Samuel Frame and I wrote an article that appeared in the Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, which is a peer reviewed publication. It’s part of the material collected at the site set up to make all information about the Santa Barbara Divorce Project available to the public. (Note: The document posted online is our final draft rather than a reprint of the journal article, which is available for download from Sage for a one-time charge. Our final draft is available at no cost.)
Until the research on the South County Divorcing Population was completed and a study by the Yale Bereavement Project was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, I used the Kübler-Ross Stage Model of Grief as a heuristic. I would say something like: The experience of grief during divorce is similar to the grief experienced in anticipation of or after the death of a loved one. If the client wanted to talk about this comparison I would quickly add that the Kübler-Ross Stage Model of Grief was the produce of one doctor’s observations of a set of patients who were in the process of dying. Her book, On Death and Dying, was published in 1969 and was an immediate success. The Stage Model [1. Shock & Denial; 2. Anger & Rage; 3. False Bargaining; 4. Depression; 5. Acceptance] had the ring of truth. It was used as a basis for Hospice; it was promoted by the American Cancer Institute and taught in nearly all medical schools. This was in spite of the fact that the Stage Theory of Grief was the product of one person’s observations of a small group of patients. It was anecdotal evidence, which in science doesn’t count.
Nevertheless, it was acted upon.
My use of the concept in the context of divorce was described in a 1968 article in the American Bar Association Journal.
When I made the first finding about Santa Barbara Divorce – such as a mean Interval of 29.9 months – and was then able to replicate those findings (Mean Interval of 28.85 months) and the Yale Bereavement Study validated the Stage Model I began to make the statement far more emphatically.
I now say, “The grief experienced during divorce is the same psychological process experienced in the context of death. It occurs in stages which are predictable in order of appearance, peak intensity and conclusion.” This is to only known explanation that fits the data.
The Yale Study generated a diagram of the the Model, which I’ve adopted for divorce. It warrants careful study and will answer many questions about the process. Link to Yale Model/Diagram>
This is a site we created to distribute Continuing Legal Education material to California Certified Family Law Specialists so that’s the audience for which the material is written. It consists of various Programs, which are either interactive with imbedded codes or ‘self-study’ which means the text is followed by a quiz. Attorneys using the site pay to have the quiz graded and for a certificate to be issued issued if they pass. The educational material is available without charge and may of use or interests to some part of the general public, which is welcome to use it. Link to TheNakedDivcorce.com>
“About Your Divorce” is a fortnightly column I’ve been writing for an online paper called the Santa Barbara Noozhawk since Valentine’s Day 2011. The column began in the form of a (long) series of letters from a hypothetical divorce lawyer (me) to a divorcing couple called “Pinky” (the husband) and “Spike” (the wife) he has known since elementary school. Although his advice is brilliant, it is ignored by his friends.
After four years of Pinky and Spike the focus of the column switched on January 19, 2015 to “Oblique Divorce Strategies,” which I describe in some detail:
These “Oblique Divorce Strategies” are not intended as empirically supported statements of truth. The notion of Oblique Strategies came from composers Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt, who learned they each kept and referred to a notebook of pithy, provocative statements when they got stuck writing a song. Then they discovered the contents of the notebooks were remarkably similar. The notebooks were combined, culled for the best entries, and reproduced in the form of a deck of cards.
Just as composers will invariably get stuck writing songs, people going through divorce are bound to get stuck. They get stuck because their beliefs and values preclude them from seeing the situation in a way that allows for solution or precludes them from acting in a way that will result in a solution. One’s existing beliefs about facts and values are never fully identified and evaluated. Examination of deep beliefs and values is a difficult and destabilizing experience that most avoid as long as we can. The impetus is usually the pain of having a set of beliefs and values that aren’t up to the task of coping well with a problem of vital importance.
A sufficient modification of old beliefs and values dissolves the impasse and causes personal change. The characterization of the change is subjective and only the person experiencing it knows whether it is positive or negative.
A set of Oblique Strategies is like a collection of physical agents known to work as catalysts for change, but it is unknown in advance which, if any, will function in a specific circumstance until it is tried.
At the beginning of 2016 twenty-three Oblique Divorce Strategies had been published on Noozhawk which means there are thirty-seven to go with a final column projected in mid-June 2018. Noozhawk published 196 columns I wrote on various aspects of divorce with the last appearing in January 2019. To the column arranged in chronological order, link>