I frequently answer questions about the mandatory parenting education classes that divorcing parents in Massachusetts or even non-married parents must complete before their divorce becomes final.
Here is some information about the course and the requirements so you will have an understanding of what to expect. Don't forget to sign up for one of the programs if you are starting the divorce process in Massachusetts.
The Massachusetts Parenting Education Program Requirement
In Massachusetts, divorcing parents must attend a parenting education program. Massachusetts Probate and Family Court Standing Order 4-08 specifies the requirements of the parenting class. The main purpose of this class is to educate parents about the impacts of family restructuring on children and reduce conflict between parents surrounding ongoing parenting responsibilities.
A judge may order parents to attend the class even if there is no pending divorce. Thus, parents to any child-related matter before the court such as a child support, visitation, or paternity case. Attendance is mandatory unless waived by the court. It is a good idea to register for the class during the early stages of your case.
In lieu of a waiver, the court may allow the completion of a DVD –based parenting course, lasting approximately four and one-half hours. Although attendance at the program is certainly preferred, in some situations the Court may allow use of the DVD program. This is a newer development that started in 2013.
Currently, the class costs $80.00 per person, but the fee is reduced to $5.00 for those that submit an Affidavit of Indigency and Request for Waiver, after approval of course. The fee for the DVD program is the same.
Parenting Class in MA- Locations
The Court maintains a list of the approved providers in Massachusetts. From time to time an updated list is released, but it is important to call the course provider because things change, or a location may no longer offer classes, etc.
To view the parenting education class locations organized by county, please click here.
From time to time, the court may update or re-organize their website, so if for some reason this link doesn't work, we suggest checking the Massachusetts Probate & Family Court website for the list.
Parenting Program Schedule
The parenting program is usually divided into two sessions, although some locations may provide the option of one longer session during a weekend. The in-person program is required to last at least five hours.
No matter how cooperative your relationship is with the other parent is, you may not attend the same program as your spouse or the other parent of your child!
Is the Parenting program actually helpful?
Most of our clients report they find the parenting education program helpful. Like any other course, the quality of your instructors is a big factor. If you attend the class with an open mind and then apply the information and guidance during your interactions with your children and the other parent, everyone will benefit – especially your children.
If you are considering a divorce, or have another family law issue including child support, parenting, visitation, or custody, the Westwood divorce lawyers and divorce mediators at Next Phase Legal can help. Next Phase Legal LLC in Medfield is convenient to Routes 128, 27, and 109 and serves clients throughout Massachusetts, including Walpole, Dover, Franklin, Norwood and Sherborn.
For additional information or to schedule your confidential consultation, please contact us at (508) 359-4043.
By Stephen McDonough, Massachusetts divorce attorney and mediator, owner of Next Phase Legal LLC in Medfield, MA.