Do I need to take parenting class amid divorce?

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Q. I am getting ready to file for divorce and I am getting very mixed information.  My sister was divorced just before the pandemic in 2020 and said I need to take a parent education class even if we have an agreement on custody.  My best friend was divorced earlier this year and said my sister is wrong because even though they were fighting about custody, she never had to take a class about how to be a parent after divorce.

I am trying to be proactive and get as much as possible done up front as I can. If my husband and I need to take a class, I would like to do it now. We do have three children but there is no question about custody.  I am a stay-at-home mom and he travels a ton for work. We know what we are going to do about the children.

A. When your sister got divorced, there was standing order dating back many years which required parents to attend a parent education class.  At that time there were a number of approved courses that could be taken to meet the requirement.  Most of the classes were in person.  People often had problems with classes being full thus causing delays in the case.  That requirement was suspended on June 25, 2021.

Recently, the court circulated a new Standing Order which takes effect Nov. 1, 2023.  This new order requires everyone with minor children who are involved in an annulment, divorce, complaint for custody, or other litigation such as a modification or contempt regarding custody and parenting time to take a parenting class.  There are exceptions to the requirement.  If you and your husband negotiate an agreement and ultimately file a joint petition for divorce, you will not be required to take the class.  If you are unable to reach an agreement on the support aspect and one of you ends up filing for divorce, you can still avoid the parenting class by filing a partial or full written agreement on parenting time and custody issues with the court within 60 days of serving the divorce summons.

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