Innovative translation of psychological and clinical science to family law and court systems is at the core of our research program and the doctoral training opportunities in my lab. Our research empirically evaluates the effects of family law interventions in the court setting. It is designed to bring empirically supported interventions to court and to disseminate evidence based practice in family law. As part of that effort, we conduct randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on different family law interventions.

  • Beck, C.J.,A., Holtzworth-Munroe, A., D’Onofrio, B.M., Fee, W.C., & Hill, F.G. (2009). Collaboration between judges and social science researchers in family law. Family Court Review (special issue), 47, 451-467. (pdf)
  • Applegate, A.G., D’Onofrio, B.M., & Holtzworth-Munroe, A. (2009). Training and transforming students through interdisciplinary education: The intersection of law and psychology. Family Court Review (special issue), 47, 468-484.
  • Sandler, I., Saini, M., Kline Pruett, M., Pedro-Carroll, J., Johnston, J.R., Holtzworth-Munroe, A., and Emery, R.E. (The Researchers’ Taskforce of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts) (2016). Convenient and inconvenient truths in family law: Preventing scholar-advocacy bias in the use of social science research for public policy. Family Court Review, 54, 150-166.
  • Association for Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) Taskforce (2016). Guidelines for examining Intimate Partner Violence: A Supplement to the AFCC Model Standards for Practice in Child Custody Evaluation. Family Court Review, 54, 674-686. (I was a member of the taskforce.)

Ongoing RCTs in Family Law:

National Institute of Justice Study: “Intimate Partner Violence and Custody Decisions: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Outcomes from Family Court, Shuttle Mediation, or Videoconferencing Mediation”

This study was a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of family mediation cases with levels of intimate partner violence (IPV) that were so high or concerning that they usually would be considered inappropriate for joint mediation (i.e., mediation in which both parties sit in a room together with the mediator, raising concerns about intimidation, coercion, and victim safety). If parties agreed to study participation, these cases were randomly assigned to: traditional court-based litigation (i.e., sent back to court, which is what would usually happen to these cases) or shuttle mediation (i.e., parties sit in separate rooms and a mediator shuttles back and forth between them), or videoconferencing mediation (i.e., parties sit in separate rooms but see and hear each other via video). The aim of this study was to determine whether, and how, these different dispute resolution processes help protect the safety and interests of separating and divorcing families reporting IPV. This study was conducted at the Washington D.C. Superior Court’s Multi-Door Dispute Resolution Division. Data analyses and writing of the study findings are ongoing.

  • Rossi, F.S., Holtzworth-Munroe, A., & Applegate, A.G., Beck, C.J., Adams, J.M., & Hale, D.F. (2017). Shuttle and online mediation: A review of available research and implications for separating couples reporting intimate partner violence or abuse. Family Court Review, 55(3), 390-403.

Delaware County Online Parent Program Comparative Effectiveness Study

This study is a randomized controlled trial of two popular online parent programs: Two Families Now and Children in Between. We are evaluating the effectiveness of these programs, compared to each other and to no program, within a sample of divorcing parents with children as well as a sample of unmarried parents seeking custody and parenting time arrangements for their children. This study is just beginning and takes place in the Delaware County, IN (Muncie) Family Courts.

Recently Completed RCTs in Family Law:

RCT of an Online Parent Education Program Among Contested Paternity Cases in a Title-IVD Court

  • Rudd, B.N., Poladian, A.R., Holtzworth-Munroe, A., Applegate, A.G, D’Onofrio, B.M. (2015). Randomized Control Trial One Year Follow Up: Online Parent Program and Waiting Period for Unmarried Parents in Title IV-D Court. Journal of Family Psychology, 31(3), pp. 381-386.
  • Poladian, A.R., Rudd, B.N., Holtzworth-Munroe, Applegate, A.G., & D’Onofrio, B.M. (2017). Predictors of initial agreement and one-year re-litigation in Title IV-D contested paternity cases. Family Court Review, 55(2), pp. 243-259.
  • Rudd, B.N., Holtzworth-Munroe, A., Reyome, J.G., Applegate, A.G., & D’Onofrio, B.M. (2015). Randomized Control Trial: Online Parent Program and Waiting Period for Unmarried Parents in Title-IV-D Court. The Journal of Family Psychology, 29(5), pp. 679-686. (pdf)

RCT of Two Forms of Child-Informed Mediation versus Mediation as Usual.

  • Rudd, B.N., Ogle, R.K., Holtzworth-Munroe, A., Applegate, A.G., & D’Onofrio, B.M. (2015). Child-informed mediation study follow up: Comparing the frequency of re-litigation following different types of mediation. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 21(4), pp. 452-457. (pdf)
  • Ballard, R.H., Holtzworth-Munroe, A., Applegate, A.G., D’Onofrio, B.M., & Bates, J.E. (2013). A randomized controlled trial of child-informed mediation. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 18, 271-281. (pdf)

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) Among Divorcing and Separating Parents

MASIC (Mediator Assessment of Safety Issues and Concerns): IPV Screening

We have conducted work on the best methods for IPV screening in family mediation. For example, while both psychology and medicine have a history of considering the best methods for detecting IPV, family law lags behind. Thus, we conducted two randomized controlled trials comparing methods of IPV screening in family mediation settings. We also have developed and tested an IPV screening measure for such settings, the MASIC. Our new measure assesses various types of violence (e.g., sexual, severe, threats) and abuse (e.g., coercive controlling behaviors, stalking). This work primarily takes place at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law Viola J. Taliaferro Family and Children Mediation Clinic.

  • Rossi, F. S., Holtzworth-Munroe, A., Applegate, A.G., Beck, C. J. A., Adams, J. M., & Hale, D. F. (2015) Detection of intimate partner violence and recommendation for joint family mediation: A randomized controlled trial of two screening measures. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 21(3), 239-251. (pdf)
  • Ballard, R.H., Holtzworth-Munroe, A., Applegate, A.G., & Beck, C.J.A. (2011). Detecting intimate partner violence in family and divorce mediation: A randomized trial of intimate partner violence screening. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 17, 241-263. (pdf)
  • Pokman, V., Rossi, F.S., Holtzworth-Munroe, A., Beck, C.J.A., Applegate, A.G., & D’Onofrio, B.M. (2014). Mediator’s assessment of safety issues and concerns (MASIC): Reliability and validity of a new intimate partner violence screen. Assessment, 21, 529-542. (pdf)
  • Holtzworth-Munroe, A., Beck, C.J.A., & Applegate, A.G. (2010). The Mediator’s Assessment of Safety Issues and Concerns (MASIC): A screening interview for intimate partner violence and abuse available in the public domain. Family Court Review, 48, 646-662. (pdf)

Examining IPV in Family Law Cases of Divorcing and Separating Parents

We conduct research regarding how cases experiencing IPV are handled in family law settings, including for example, whether their mediation agreements differ in expected ways from the mediation agreements reached by nonviolent couples. In such studies, we have coded mediation agreements for a variety of issues, including legal and physical custody and parenting time. We also write about such issues in general, to help increase awareness of IPV among family law professionals.

  • Rossi, F. S., Holtzworth-Munroe, A., Applegate, A.G., & Beck, C. J. (in press). Subtypes of violent separating or divorcing couples seeking family mediation and their association with personality and criminality characteristics. Psychology of Violence.
  • Rossi, F.S., Holtzworth-Munroe, A., & Applegate, A.G. (2015). Does level of intimate partner violence and abuse predict content of family mediation agreements? Family Court Review, 53, 134-161. (pdf)
  • Putz, J.W., Ballard, R.H., Arany, J.G., Applegate, A.G., & Holtzworth-Munroe, A. (2012). Comparing the mediation agreements of families with and without a history of intimate partner violence. Family Court Review, 50, 413-428. (pdf)
  • Holtzworth-Munroe, A. (2011). Controversies in divorce mediation and intimate partner violence: A focus on the children. Aggression and Violent Behavior. Part of special issue on current controversies in intimate partner violence research. (pdf)
  • Rossi, F.S., Holtzworth-Munroe, A., & Rudd, B.N. (2016). Intimate partner violence and child custody. In L.M. Drozd, M. Saini, & N. Olesen (Eds.) Parenting Plan Evaluations: Applied Research for the Family Court. (2nd edition). (pp. 346-373). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. (pdf)

Past Research on Intimate Partner Violence

Past research on Social Information Processing Skills Deficits of Maritally Violent Men

In earlier work, we conducted research comparing the social information processing skills deficits of men who were physically violent towards their wives to those who were not, documenting for example, that violent men demonstrated a hostile attribution bias, incompetence in responding to negative wife behaviors, hostile communication in marital interactions, and other social skills deficits. At the time, few theoretical models had been systematically applied and empirically tested as explanations of male perpetrated IPV. These studies also included new methods and comparison samples (e.g., including a comparison sample of unhappily married but nonviolent husbands) which helped to advance the field methodologically.

  • Holtzworth-Munroe, A., & Smutzler, N., & Stuart, G.L. (1998). Demand and withdraw communication among couples experiencing husband violence.  Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 66, 731-743.
  • Anglin, K., & Holtzworth-Munroe, A. (1997).  Comparing the responses of violent and nonviolent spouses to problematic marital and nonmarital situations: Are the skills deficits of physically aggressive husbands and wives global?  Journal of Family Psychology, 11, 301-313.
  • Holtzworth‑Munroe, A. & Hutchinson, G. (1993).  Attributing negative intent to wife behavior:  The attributions of maritally violent versus nonviolent men.  Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 102, 206-211.
  • Holtzworth-Munroe, A. (1992).  Social skill deficits in maritally violent men:  Interpreting the data using a social information processing model.  Clinical Psychology Review, 12, 605-617.

Past Research on a Male Batterer Typology

My lab then developed and tested a typology of men who were physically violent towards their wives. At the time, most studies included all men who perpetrated IPV as a single group, failing to recognize the wide variety of ways in which these men differed. The model helped to outline the fact that “violent men” is a heterogeneous group and to suggest dimensions to be considered by the field.

  • Holtzworth-Munroe, A., Meehan, J.C., Herron, K., Rehman, U., & Stuart, G.L. (2003). Do subtypes of maritally violent men continue to differ over time? Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 71, 728-740.
  • Holtzworth-Munroe, A., Meehan, J.C., Herron, K., Rehman, U., & Stuart, G. L.  (2000).  Testing the Holtzworth-Munroe and Stuart (1994) batterer typology. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 68, 1000-1019.
  • Holtzworth-Munroe, A., & Stuart, G.  (1994). Typologies of male batterers:  Three subtypes and the differences among them.  Psychological Bulletin, 116, 476-497.