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Parenting Courses Required In A Florida Divorce: A Closer Look
In the state of Florida, married parents filing for divorce often express surprise upon learning one specific fact. They are required, by law, to attend a minimum of four hours at one of several parenting courses before the court will decide on their case.
Whether this seems unreasonable to you or not, it does tend to catch people off guard. Both you and your spouse will need to complete an accredited parenting course before courts can make a final call on your divorce. Let’s take a closer look.
Parenting Courses: A Contentious Issue
For a parent in the middle of a divorce, the need to obtain a certificate of completion might seem like a little much. It could feel like the courts are challenging their ability as a parent, somehow. There is some reasoning behind this procedure, however.
Section 61.21 of the Florida Statutes, which requires these courses, was created based on the idea that this would be valuable to everyone involved. Many Florida children experience divorces every year, a process that can cause both short and long-term psychological damages, no matter your intentions. A divorce could be as healthy and amicable as possible and still cause tensions in your child’s life, after all.
But it does put some parents on edge. You’re going through a divorce, worried about getting custody and, suddenly, a court of law is asking you to take classes on parenting? The regulation was designed with specific intentions in mind. Members of the Florida legislature spent time learning about the experiences of the children of divorce. Their short-and-long-term challenges, from the economics of a single-parent household to the well-documented emotional obstacles. The move was their attempt to minimize these detrimental effects, especially on minor children.
The Benefits of the Courses
Studies have shown that parents who participate in training like this gain knowledge they didn’t have before. This works in the best interests of the child, and can actually help guide the custody dispute. Because this is an emotional time for a young person, and they will need your consideration to get through it. Maybe you feel ready to do that on your own. Maybe you don’t. Whatever the case, with this training course, you’ll have the skills you need to put your children first.
There’s also not just one course to choose from. Because the regulation applies statewide, you’ll have access to a few different parenting courses. So long as they meet specific requirements, you’ll be able to make up the time required. Courses must be 4 hours long at least.
The Department of Children and Families must also verify and approve that each course is “designed to educate, train, and assist divorcing parents regarding the consequences of divorce on parents and children.” Each course should include:
- The legal consequences of the divorce as related to the child
- The emotional impact of a divorce between adult and their children
- Family dynamics
- The financial responsibilities regarding your child
- The issue of spousal or child abuse and neglect
- Parenting, workplace, school, and civic relations skills training
Circuit courts local to your county or city will feature lists of approved providers on their websites or, at least, be willing to send them to you via email or over the phone. Both parents are required to sign up for and participate in these courses and complete them within a 45-day timeframe. If you fail to complete your training, you could be found in contempt of court, which would hinder your chances of obtaining custody and prolong the actual divorce itself.
There are special circumstances for exemption, but it has to be for a good cause. The courts would decide on this on a case-by-case basis.
Parenting Courses In Florida Divorces
Laws and regulations such as this tend to be somewhat contentious among the people they affect. You may have some questions or issues with the parenting course requirement. The fact is, however, this is a legal necessity before final judgments in Florida divorces. In the same vein, your cooperation in this regard will be crucial to your divorce.
For questions about this requirement or any other area of your divorce, get in touch with Koleilat Law for more information. And make sure to check out the rest of our divorce law blog content for more insights into these and other similar issues.