Why Does the Court Make Me Go to Parenting Education Classes?

New Jersey law requires parents to attend a one-time class about parenting. The seminar costs $25, which you pay as part of the divorce petition filing fee. Both parents are required to attend, usually separately. If either parent does not attend, the divorce court judge may consider that fact when making decisions about child custody and visitation.

The New Jersey legislature enacted the parent education classes law in 1999, in response to the outcome of several academic studies demonstrating the positive impact on children’s development of positive co-parenting following divorce. Other, similar, studies showed a correlation between unhealthy developmental behaviors and parenting conflict after divorce. A summary of these studies, and a bibliography, can be found at the end of the article “When People Parent Together: Let’s Talk About Coparenting,” available online through the continuing education program at the University of Florida. The article discusses co-parenting on a nationwide basis.

The purpose of New Jersey’s “Parents’ Education Program,” according to the statute enacting the requirement, is to “promote cooperation between the parties and to assist parents in resolving issues which may arise during the divorce or separation process.” The class provides education on the following topics:

  • The legal process and cost of divorce or separation, including arbitration and mediation
  • Parents’ financial responsibilities for children
  • The interaction between parent and child, the family relationship and any other areas of adjustment and concern during the process of divorce or separation
  • How children react to divorce or separation, how to spot problems, what to tell them about divorce or separation, how to keep communication open and how to answer questions and concerns the children may have about the process
  • How parents can help their children during the divorce or separation, specific strategies, ideas, tools, and resources for assistance
  • How to make sure that children are not placed in the middle or used as tools for litigation
  • How parents can help children after the divorce or separation and how to deal with new family structures and different sets of rules
  • Understanding that cooperation may sometimes be inappropriate in cases of domestic violence

Questions About Co-Parenting After Divorce? Contact the Law Office of Lyons & Associates

At Lyons & Associates, we bring a high level of personalized service and attention to men and women in New Jersey. To schedule an appointment regarding divorce or child custody conflicts, contact us online or call our office at 908-575-9777.