If you’re a parent of children under 18 and you’ve decided to move forward with a divorce or child custody case in Missouri, you will be required to take a parenting class before your case is completed.
Many parents’ initial reaction to the parenting class requirement is “Why?” While the simplest answer is that the law requires it, here are a few practical reasons:
Parenting classes aren’t just for parents with big problems.
Most child custody disputes come about when parents are not working well together and may not have learned how to parent effectively—especially in a divided family. The parenting class helps parents support their kids through the divorce process, assisting parents with understanding the issues that their kids may be facing, and providing tools on how to co-parent.
But I don’t want to share my family life with strangers.
Sharing is not a requirement! In fact, the class is structured such that there is very little time for sharing. Most classes are lecture based and may include a short video. Typically, the class will center around types of behavior or issues parents may see in their kids, review behavior that parents should be concerned about, discuss the grieving process for kids, provide information on how to keep kids out of the middle, and touch on some potential mental health issues. A short question and answer period will likely be towards the end of class.
I don’t have the time for it.
The class requires minimum commitment. There are many different times and locations to choose from, and the class is only about two hours.
But I’m a good parent already.
This class has nothing to do with whether someone is a good or bad parent. Every parent has to complete it, and it takes place in a non-judgmental environment, with the focus on how parents think about their kids and how they should put them first. Dealing with child care brings up powerful emotions for everyone involved, and the class provides parents with knowledge to enable them to be the best that they can be.
There are other people I can talk to.
Yes, and talking to other professionals is very good! When you attend the parenting class, you will receive a notebook that has additional information that you can read on your own and a list of resources. Your parenting class is just the first step in ensuring that you and your children are giving the proper attention to issues that may arise during the course of your case and afterwards.
Most parents walk away with a positive feeling about the parenting class, recognizing the value in taking the time to educate themselves about the issues that children may be dealing with during the difficult time.
To have other questions answered about the parenting class or other issues relating to your divorce or custody matter, talk to one of the family law attorneys at Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal.