I’m a big advocate for parents improving their knowledge, skills, aptitude to be the best parent they can be. Parent education comes in various forms and numerous methods. Some are much more advanced than others, but it doesn’t hurt to participate in the basic ones.
What is Parent Education?
Parent education is the training, informing, or preparing parents for the challenges of raising children. Although parent’s education is available to any parent at any point in their parenting journey, they don’t typically seek help until they are embroiled in a child custody battle.
Parent education can help parents learn to communicate more effectively; use positivity more often; discipline without harshness and so on. Parenting education can address everything from emotional/behavioral techniques to financial skills, they vary.
Parent education can be delivered in the form of in-person classes, live stream workshops, recorded webinars, even self-study programs. They vary in their duration as well, some are several weeks while others can be as long as three months. (Read more here on the different types of parents education programs.)
Parent Education and Divorce or Custody
In many states, the courts require that parents participate in parent education programs when a divorce is filed or a Custody proceeding commenced. Approximately seventeen states have mandatory parent’s education when divorced is filed, whether contested or uncontested. (NJ, for example, has enacted the Parents Education Act, N.J.S.A. 2A:34-12.1 to 2A:34-12.8).
The courts have an objective in mandating or encouraging participation in parents education. They want to minimize conflict amongst parents and to ensure that the children receive adequate support from the parents during the very emotional process.
From the court’s perspective, there are advantages to the parents and the children of divorce where parenting education is incorporated. For the parents, they learn to resolve conflict on their own and not involve the courts. In addition, parents get a better understanding of their respective obligation to provide for their child(ren)’s financial needs. As for the children, they usually do better academically, transition to their new life easier, and behave appropriately in their environments. The court has a vested interest in children dealing with the divorce appropriately. Again, it keeps the parents out of court for Contempt or Modification petitions.
In some custody battles, it is advisable to parent education courses whether it’s mandatory or not. In a case where one parent has a history of questionable discipline tactics, for instance, presenting evidence of parent education completion can allay the court’s concerns on this topic.
The Mechanics of Parent Education Programs
There is usually a fee the parents have to pay for the parent education program. The fees typically range from $25 to $100. (These fees can be waived in some instances.) Nonprofit organizations and associations are most often the providers of these programs. Each state has its process of accepting or approving the parents education programs. However, most of them have clear requirements that the programs must meet to meet the standards for approval.
There can be consequences for either parent’s failure to participate or complete the parent’s education. Of course, where they are mandatory the consequences are harsher. Failure to adhere to the court’s requirements, depending on the reason, constitutes violating a court order. Sanctions for such violations range from a change in parenting time to delaying the final judgment or order of divorce.
Parents education resources are not hard to come by. In all instances where parents feel they can benefit from the insight they provide they should be sought out. The advantages of the programs far outweigh the costs in almost every case.
If you wish to speak to me about your custody or divorce please feel free to contact me for a FREE 15 min consultation.