What Is the Purpose of Parenting Classes and Are They Required?

July 19, 2022

When a married couple decides to officially end their marriage through divorce, a number of things can impact the process — the emotions involved and the relationship between the various parties, including the parent-child relationship.

An issue that often gives rise to strong emotions is the division of parental responsibilities. It is a difficult and often complicated matter. There are a lot of sensitive issues around this topic that can easily cause anger and resentment between the two adult parties. Before a divorce decree is issued, parents are required to attend court ordered parenting classes, which may give rise to some confusion, as parents are unclear about why this is a requirement. 

This process may feel unnecessary, arbitrary, and even frustrating for some parents.

However, understanding what it is, why it needs to happen, the benefits of attending, the consequences of not attending or completing the course, and the process involved may put the parents at ease and help them prepare for what is to come. 

Who must attend this course, and how long is it?

Compliance is usually mandatory, even in uncontested divorces. All parents residing in Florida and undergoing a divorce that involves minor children must attend court ordered parenting classes pursuant to 61.21(5), Florida Statutes. 

The course is usually four hours long, and parents will need to arrange to attend the course before the divorce decree is finalized. In addition, in Florida, the following cases cannot be finalized until both parties attend the Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course:

  • Divorce case
  • Paternity case
  • Visitation case
  • Child custody case
  • Time-sharing case

Parenting plan

In Florida, a parenting plan is a strategic plan that outlines how the parents will make decisions regarding their child/children after the divorce is finalized. It also includes a time schedule that indicates when and how much time the child/children spend with each parent.

In addition, it clearly outlines the duties and responsibilities of each parent after the divorce decree is issued. 

What happens if you do not attend?

If either or both parties fail to meet this requirement and, pursuant to 61.21(9), Florida Statutes, the court may hold the parties in contempt of court. 

What is the Family Mediation Program?

The program provides Florida Supreme Court Family Certified Mediators that assist families with open cases in matters including:

  • Property division and alimony
  • Parental responsibility
  • Child support
  • Parenting plans

Family court mediation aims to assist parents before, during, and after the divorce settlement to deal with the aforementioned issues and resolve any conflict that satisfies both parties. Families are able to sit down in a safe space and negotiate future plans regarding minor children through the help of a neutral third party.

The mediator’s primary goal is to help improve communication between the parties and assist the parties to reach an amicable agreement regarding parental responsibility and the way forward. 

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Law Offices of Granoff & Kessler