About the project

The mission of the Minnesota Couples on the Brink Project is to develop, disseminate, and evaluate best practices to help couples at high risk for divorce who are uncertain whether to divorce or to try to rebuild their marriage, and to enhance the capacity of therapists, lawyers, clergy, and other professionals to work effectively with these couples.

We began this work after Judge Bruce Peterson of the Hennepin County (Minnesota) Family Court approached Professor Bill Doherty of the University of Minnesota about finding ways to offer divorcing couples the opportunity for a "rest stop" on the road to divorce, allowing couples time to consider whether divorce is the best option or if reconciliation is a possibility.

We then conducted a survey of divorcing couples with children and found that 30% of individual divorcing parents expressed ambivalence about whether divorce was the best option and an interest in specialized services that opened up the reconciliation option. That's what led to the Couples on the Brink Project at the University of Minnesota.

The Minnesota legislature funded the project in 2010 via a small surcharge on marriage license fees in order to help the state develop capacity to assist couples who have not been adequately served by traditional services.

The project is housed in the Department of Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota.