Going through a divorce is tough on both parents and their children. And it can be hard to maintain a positive attitude for the benefit of your kids. But you can help minimize the trauma and ease the transition by taking a co-parenting course. These parenting classes for divorce focus on helping parents learn how to end the conflict and successfully co-parent after they separate.
By Tracy Achen, Divorce Coach
Many states now require the completion of a parent education program before a divorce or court order concerning custody will be finalized. Court ordered divorce parenting classes are usually focused on ensuring the parents continue to co-parent their children when they are no longer together. They teach essential parenting and communication skills to help keep children out of the middle of the parent’s conflict.
States which generally require parents to attend parenting classes for divorce include:
The court can also decide to order these classes if the divorce is deemed as high conflict. The parents are taught how to reduce the tension by ensuring they interact less with each other and more with their children after the divorce. When children are the focus of their parent’s attention, they are less likely to feel neglected or blame themselves for their parents' divorce.
In states where co-parenting classes are not mandatory, couples are still advised to take the class as well. By focusing on how to deal with issues that affect both parents as well as the children, the whole family can avoid a lot of the trauma of divorce.
The parents are also taught how to recognize any patterns of trauma in the children. They may start to act out as a result of anger and frustration, get depressed or even withdrawn socially. Parenting classes can help parents recognize this type of behavior and help their child understand their feeling and learn appropriate ways to deal with the changes.
In cases of court ordered classes, there are specific providers to administer the classes and the court may require a certificate of completion before finalizing a divorce. The court will usually provide a list of available classes in the area. You can also ask your lawyer for such a list. Even if you aren’t required to take a parenting class, you can still ask the court for a list of providers.
There are also classes offered by community-based providers such as community colleges, the United Way, and various churches. And some counseling centers often offer co-parenting course to the general public. You can start your search for these services by using the internet or calling directly.
Taking an online parenting class is often more convenient and offers a lot more privacy than locally hosted classes. Online classes cover the same material as many local classes without the inconvenience of having to take time off work or having to find a baby sitter. You can learn at your own pace or review a section before moving on to the next one. If a co-parenting class isn’t required for your divorce, it will probably be a lot easier to take the class online.
For court ordered parenting classes for divorce, you will need to make sure the court will recognize the online course before you take it. Each state, county, and judge may have different requirements. Therefore, you want to get prior approval from the court before you enroll in an online course to make sure they will accept the certificate of completion. If the court won’t approve the course, you’ll need to attend a local parenting class approved by the court.
One really good online program to check out is The Center for Divorce Education. They offer the Children in Between Program which was created by distinguished psychologist Dr. Donald Gordon. It is an interactive, skills-based approach to helping reduce the stress of divorce on both parents and children.
Take the first step to improving your parenting and co-parenting skills while protecting and enhancing your child’s emotional health.