Some of the cutting-edge work now underway provides a flavor of the approaches being developed. Dr. Phil Cowan and Dr. Carolyn Cowan, both professors of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, have been involved in the development and rigorous testing of family instruction models for more than twenty years. Dr. Benjamin Karney, a psychologist at the University of Florida, has been conducting a longitudinal study of newly married couples. Dr. Richard Heyman, a psychologist at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, has 15 years’ experience conducting prevention and treatment research on couple and family interaction. Dr. John Gottman, who leads the Relationship Research Institute where he focuses on marriage, family, and child development, has developed and carefully evaluated some of the most innovative new approaches to marital education and group instruction. Dr. Pamela Jordan developed the Becoming Parents Program, a couple-focused educational research program being tested in a large randomized trial. Dr. Howard J. Markman and Dr. Scott Stanley, both of the University of Denver, developed and refined the Preparation and Relationship Enhancement Program ( PREP ).
There are those certain divorce cases where a couple has only been married for a very short while, usually less than one year, and are now seeking a divorce. How does a couple like this divide their marital property? Under Illinois law, martial property is defined as all property acquired by either spouse after the marriage, except for the following which is considered to be non-marital property: (1) property acquired by gift or inheritance; (2) property acquired in exchange for property acquired before the marriage; (3) property acquired by a spouse after a judgment of legal separation; (4) property excluded by valid agreement of the parties; (5) property obtained by judgment awarded to a spouse from the other spouse; or (6) property acquired before the marriage. In short term marriages, generally there is no entitlement to maintenance (formerly known as alimony in Illinois), unless agreed to by the parties by way of a prenuptial agreement, or some other agreement dictating a right to maintenance after a dissolution of a couple's marriage. Typically, the parties will retain ownership of the property he or she brought into the marriage. Wedding gifts, however, are considered to be marital property which will be divided in a divorce. Generally, the husband will retain the smaller gifts given to home by his family and friends while the wife keeps the gifts given to her by her family and friends. Cash gifts, or other gifts of significant value, are usually divided evenly to the parties. Similarly, any debt and costs incurred as a result of the wedding celebration, planning, and honeymoon will typically be apportioned evenly among the parties in the divorce proceeding.
It is estimated that upwards of 95% of divorces in the . are "uncontested",  because the two parties are able to come to an agreement (either with or without lawyers/mediators/collaborative counsel) about the property, children, and support issues. When the parties can agree and present the court with a fair and equitable agreement, approval of the divorce is almost guaranteed. If the two parties cannot come to an agreement, they may ask the court to decide how to split property and deal with the custody of their children. Though this may be necessary, the courts would prefer parties come to an agreement prior to entering court.