The Parents Divorcing Conflict Scale

Initial Tool Development and Exploratory Factor Analysis


  • Premela Deck
  • Sarah Eisensmith
  • Jacqueline Cafaro MAGAL



forensic social work, conflict scale, factor structure, divorce and seperation


Practical measures to screen for high levels of pre-divorce conflict offer a unique opportunity for early intervention by forensic social work professionals in divorces where children are at risk of being exposed to high levels of interparental conflict and subsequent maladjustment. There is a lack of validated short screening instruments specifically addressing pre-divorce conflict for parents with at least one minor child. An instrument of this nature would support those in the forensic social work field in identifying families that may be at risk for a high-conflict divorce process. Accordingly, this study describes the development of a self-report measure to assess conflict in parenting couples who are in the process of divorce. An Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA) was conducted with data from a sample of parents in the process of divorce (n=114), and multiple factor structures were examined. The EFA confirmed that a one-factor model offered the best fit. The short 8-item Parents Divorcing Conflict Scale (PDCS) is a promising measure for use in forensic social work, research, and clinical and policy settings as it captures pertinent themes of conflict, including communication, social network, parent characteristics, satisfaction with agreements, and mistrust, and can inform early intervention strategies that will serve to support healthy communication practices amongst divorcing couples throughout the marriage dissolution process.


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