Many parents with minor children that meet with me to discuss pre-suit divorce mediation are surprised and annoyed when they hear that attending a parenting class is required before the court can finalize the divorce. When the rationale underlying this requirement is explained, however, it becomes clear that a mandatory parenting class is a good idea that can only benefit the children.
The Florida Legislature has set forth the specific reasons for this requirement directly in Section 61.21 of the Florida Statutes, stating in pertinent part as follows: “Parental conflict related to divorce is a societal concern because children suffer potential short-term and long-term detrimental economic, emotional, and educational effects during this difficult period of family transition. This is particularly true when parents engage in lengthy legal conflict. Parents are more likely to consider the best interests of their children when determining parental arrangements if courts provide families with information regarding the process by which courts make decisions on issues affecting their children and suggestions as to how parents may ease the coming adjustments in family structure for their children.”
In light of those legislative findings, approved parenting classes primarily focus on educating the parents as to how children are impacted by the trauma of divorce, and how these consequences can be minimized when parents are equipped with the knowledge and skills to effectively co-parent the children as the family moves forward under dramatically different circumstances.
Thankfully, there are many approved parenting classes available both in-person and online, and the cost of the classes is negligible, averaging between $20-40 for each parent. Upon the successful completion of a parenting class, the parties will be issued a certificate of completion that is filed with the court as part of the divorce process.
Please contact Healthy Family Mediation Center at (239) 549-3549 or visit our website at www.healthyfamilymediation.com to learn more about the advantages of pre-suit divorce mediation, and why this process benefits children by minimizing conflict, allowing the parents to move forward with co-parenting their children in a healthier manner.