Determining the Postdivorce Living Arrangements for Children

A Behavioral Model
  • Richard A. Marafiote


Within a behavioral model, the concept of the best interests of the child maintains its position of importance. It is suggested that a child’s interests are best served if he or she is placed in an environment in which it is most likely that his or her interaction with it will result in the acquisition and maintenance of patterns of behavior that hold the greatest promise for good future adjustment. The environment would include people, places, and material objects; adjustment would include physical, psychological, and intellectual factors. Although this description is somewhat broad, it advances the position that a child’s environment shapes and develops his or her thoughts, feelings, and actions and that the living arrangement which is most likely to result in the greatest number of positive outcomes for a child and in the least number of negative ones is the arrangement that should be selected. The search for this environment seems to suggest five possible areas of assessment:
  1. 1.

    the capacity of all potential caretakers to parent the child (i.e., parental competence)

  2. 2.

    the child’s behavioral repertoire in relation to the environment

  3. 3.

    the prospective caretaker as a model for the child (i.e., observational learning)

  4. 4.

    the potential postdivorce environments (i.e., a functional analysis of the criterion environment)

  5. 5.

    the self-ratings and prediction of potential caretakers and children

Each of the areas listed is directly related to identifying the most appropriate type of placement for a given child and therefore addresses the question: What is to be measured in the child custody evaluation and why? Two of these five areas will be discussed in this chapter.


Living Arrangement Problematic Situation Effective Response Target Behavior Situational Analysis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard A. Marafiote
    • 1
  1. 1.Behavior Therapy Institute of ColoradoDenverUSA

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