When you are filing for a divorce where minor children are involved, you may be surprised to discover that you and your spouse are required by the State of Florida to engage in a Parenting Course prior to a court entering a final ruling on your case. The need of a parent to obtain this certificate of completion has been questioned by many parents as some feel as though their parenting is being questioned by the court. However, your divorce attorney has provided some explanations as to the purpose and procedure of the Parenting courses required by the Florida Courts.
When the Florida legislature formulated this law regarding mandatory parenting courses, they had specific intentions in mind. They invested a great deal of time learning about the experiences of children whose parents were engaged in a divorce or who have completed the divorce process. They learned that a great deal of children experience long term and short term economic, emotional, and educational hurdles due to the transition. Therefore, in an attempt to minimize the detrimental effects a divorce has on the minor children, the legislature implemented the educational process of parenting courses. Studies found that when a parent engages in these courses and gains knowledge regarding the best interest of their child, child custody disputes, emotional needs of a child going through this transition period, and the number of resources available to them, the parent and child benefited greatly. With the potential benefits available through these courses, the legislature implemented Florida Statute 61.21, which is the governing body of law regarding parenting course requirements.
There are many different parenting courses to choose from; however, they must meet certain requirements. The course must be a minimum of 4 hours, approved by the Department of Children and Families, and be “designed to educate, train, and assist divorcing parents in regard to the consequences of divorce on parents and children.” The list of approved providers is available in every circuit court, generally on their website. They are required to include: “Legal aspects of deciding child-related issues between parents; Emotional aspects of separation and divorce on adults; Emotional aspects of separation and divorce on children; Family relationships and family dynamics; Financial responsibilities to a child or children; Issues regarding spousal or child abuse and neglect; Skill-based relationship education that may be generalized to parenting, workplace, school, neighborhood, and civic relationships…Information regarding spousal and child abuse and neglect.”
Each parent is required to participate in these courses and complete them within 45 days of filing or service. Failure to complete the course can result in being held in contempt of court and in ability to obtain a final divorce decree from the judge. However, you may be excused from participating in the course by the court for good cause.
Although you may have some questions or hesitations to completing a parenting course during your divorce proceeding, these are required before a final judgment may be entered in your case. Therefore, your participation is crucial to the finalization of your divorce. If you have questions regarding these courses, and the completion contact your lawyer for more information.
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