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What are Mandatory Divorce Classes?

by Debra Schoenberg

Going through the divorce can be a grueling process for both parents and their children, who at times can be caught in the middle.  It can be hard to maintain a positive attitude for the benefit of the kids, but attending parent education classes can help parents learn how to cope with the conflict, stress, and emotions that come with a divorce, as well as learning how to co-parent.

Currently, seventeen states require all divorcing parents to attend some form of parent education class that will teach them general parenting skills and help them develop and maintain positive relationships with their children. A parent education program is a course that can be followed to correct and improve a person’s parenting skills. Such courses may be general, covering the most common issues parents may encounter, or specific, for infants, toddlers, children, and teenagers.

During mandatory divorce classes, parents will learn about:

  • How to co-parent.
  • Children’s needs as the divorce process starts.
  • The positive and negative consequences of divorce.
  • Ways to deal with conflict without involving children.

Parents will also learn how children of different ages express their pain and loss and the best parenting methods for helping them cope during and after the divorce. Some of the topics discussed are:

  • Grieving stages common to divorce.
  • How children experience divorce.
  • Long-term adjustments.
  • What to expect from a child based on the child’s developmental age.
  • Helpful ways to communicate with a child about the divorce.

Courts understand that not all parents may have the time to attend these classes in person, which is why some states offer online classes. This gives parents the opportunity to work at a time and place that may be convenient for them, as well as allowing them to finish the course at a faster pace. It’s important to remember that no matter how you decide to take these classes, taking them is mandatory, and there can be consequences if you do not attend.

Depending on where you live, if you were ordered by the court to attend and you decide to not go, it could hold up the entire divorce process. In case of unfortunate events, you may be able to get out of attending the class, but only the court will be able to decide that.

The divorce process can be difficult for you and any children involved, but the good news is that there are resources offered to help you. According to Life Matters, recent studies show that children of divorce don’t necessarily have to live an unhappy and dysfunctional life. If you find yourself in this situation and you are trying to be the best parent you can be through your divorce, the parent education classes will help you and your ex-spouse learn how to cooperate in raising the children.