Impairment in parent–child relations in the context of high-intensity parental dispute: Practitioners’ perceptions and experiences

Hanita Kosher*, Carmit Katz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


One of the consequences of divorce, especially when it involves high-intensity parental dispute (HIPD), is impairment in parent–child relations. The current qualitative study examined how this impairment in in the context of HIPD is perceived and experienced by highly experienced frontline practitioners. These practitioners are mandated to protect children in the context of HIPD and they therefore provide a unique opportunity for understanding this phenomenon. Ninety-four practitioners participated in ten focus groups and five in-depth interviews. Guided by grounded theory methodology, the analysis of the practitioners’ narratives was based on the examination of the practitioners’ perspectives of this phenomenon. The analysis resulted in a process model relating to the impairment in parent–child relations in the context of HIPD. This included three stages: ambivalence and confusion, taking sides, and entrenchment. We discuss two main conclusions that should be further explored. First is the escalation of the HIPD and its tremendous impact on the various informal and formal systems involved. This leads to a two-sided spillover process, stressing the urgent need for professional systems to avoid possible escalations in their interventions. Second, the study highlights the potential relevance of the concept of trauma in the study of children's exposure to HIPD. The practitioners in the current study provided a rare glance into how the children's adaptation response to this prolonged traumatic exposure was often the only response that ended the escalation of the dispute.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number106307
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
StatePublished - Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

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  • Contact refusal
  • High-intensity parental dispute (HIPD)
  • Impairment in parent–child relations
  • Parental alienation
  • Trauma


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