August 27, 2016 by mndivorcelawyer
Filed under Divorce With Children, The 411 on Parent Education in Minnesota Family Law
If you’re a separated or divorcing parent currently involved (or will be) in a child custody, parenting time or child support matter you may be court-ordered to participate in a parent education program. If you’re less than enthusiastic about being court-ordered to take a parenting class, you’re not alone. A lot of separated and divorcing parents initially feel this way.
Some of this initial annoyance and frustration stems from the “shock” of the unexpected and the assumption that it’ll be a waste of time. Fortunately, finding out that you’ve been court-ordered to take a parenting class isn’t so bad when you’re prepared and you know what to expect. Therefore, this article is the first in a series titled, “The 411 on Parent Education in Minnesota Family Law,” which aims to do just that!
Parent Education Requirement in Minnesota Family Law Cases
Although this parent education requirement isn’t new to Minnesota (started in 1998), as a separated or divorcing parent, it’s probably new (and reasonable so) to you. Therefore, here’s a quick look at what the law says about the parent education program in Minnesota.
- Any parent can attend a parent education program voluntarily (without a court-order) (Minnesota Statutes, Section 518.157, Subdivision 3).
- Minnesota law permits a judge to order parents in any child custody, parenting time or child support case to attend a parent education program (Minnesota Statutes, Section 518.157, Subdivision 3).
- Parents involved in a contested child custody or parenting time case must attend a parent education program (Minnesota Statutes, Section 518.157, Subdivision 3).
- Depending on the judicial district, your child(ren) may be required to attend a separate program as part of the parent education program (Minnesota Statutes, Section 518.157, Subdivision 1).
So, now that you’re aware of parent education laws in Minnesota, at least if you’re court-ordered, it won’t be coming completely out of the blue. Like mentioned above, having this awareness tends to eliminate the “shock” factor, and thus, reduce some of the initial frustration. However, there’s still the reasonable question,
“I’ve been parenting my kid(s) for years, so why would I need to take a parenting class now?“
Fortunately, these classes are different from the general perception of “parenting classes.”
Court-Ordered Co-Parenting Programs in Minnesota
The parenting classes that we’re talking about are different from the “parenting classes” that we typically imagine. Instead of being geared towards expecting parents, eager to learn the fundamentals of raising a child and gain basic parenting skills, these classes focus on issues that come up when parenting from two separate households. To illustrate, the type of parenting programs we’re talking about have titles such as, “Children in Between” from The Center for Divorce Education or “Co-Parenting Plus” and “Legal and Economic Aspects of Divorce (LEAD)” from Headway Emotional Health Services in the Twin Cities.
What’s Taught in a Parent Education Program?
Minnesota developed the parent education program to provide parents with the knowledge, support, resources and skills to effectively co-parent. In addition, the conflict prevention and dispute resolution methods you learn in the program can save you time and money. Lastly, these co-parenting classes emphasize how to reduce the impact of divorce and separation on children. As a result, many separated and divorcing parents report that the program was more helpful than they thought it would be and tend to be satisfied with their experience.
Therefore, although you may be court-ordered to attend a parenting class, we hope that by giving you a heads up and a better understanding of the type of parenting class you’d attend, that we’ve reduced some of the initial frustration.
However, there’s still a lot more to know about parenting programs and parent education orders in Minnesota. To learn about your parental rights; how to protect yourself legally when it comes to co-parenting classes; how to save money on the classes; and more… check out our second article in the series, 8 Tips to Navigate Court-Ordered Parenting Classes in Minnesota.
Armed with her belief that ‘families can evolve, not dissolve’ and her personal experience of her parents’ and her own collaborative divorce, Tara Eisenhard ventures out to give children a voice in her book, The D-Word:Divorce through a Child’s Eyes.
The D-Word centers around a 12-year-old girl, named Gina and her experience with her parents’ divorce. The story begins with Gina finding out that her parents are getting a divorce and then follows her throughout the upcoming year.
Although the book is mainly told through Gina’s perspective, her 6-year-old brother, Danny, and college-bound brother, Kevin, are present throughout the story. In addition, you get snippets of her mother’s perspective through the ease-dropping Gina does when her mom is on the phone, and a glimpse of her father’s perspective during their therapy sessions at end of the book.
The book powerfully demonstrates how a child’s feelings, thoughts and responses to his/her parents’ divorce can be influenced by the cues s/he picks up on from his/her parents (regardless of whether these cues are intentional or not). On the one hand, it means that a parent can end up alienating the child from the other parent. However, on the other hand, it means that parents have more control over the impact their divorce has on their child than they may have originally thought.
In addition, the contrasts seen among Gina and her brothers demonstrate how a child’s age and his/her personality factor into their experience of the divorce, along with additional factors such as social support, involvement of extended family members, and current life events and circumstances, like having to move to a different house or leaving the house for college.
In the D-Word, Tara tactfully strikes a balance between informing parents of how easily parental alienation can happen, while at the same time providing insight and hope for parents and families who find themselves in a similar situation.
Who would find this book most helpful?
This book is ideal for:
- Parents who are thinking about getting a divorce;
- who want a book that they can relate to and is easy to understand;
- and provides them with an introduction to parental alienation and what divorce can be like for a child.
More About the Author
Tara Eisenhard lives in Central Pennsylvania. Besides being the author of The D-Word: Divorce through a Child’s Eyes, she has a blog called, Relative Evolutions and has written articles for FamilyAffaires.com, DivorcedMoms.com, SinceMyDivorce, Divorced Women Online, MariaShriver.com, The Huffington Post, DivorceForce, and Stepmom Magazine. Tara is also a speaker, coach and mediator for individuals looking to move forward after a separation. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter, or at her office in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania.
To get your hands on her book, you can order it for $13.95 (with shipping it’ll come to about $18 for paperback) through her store on her website, or it’s also available in hardcover and eBook online at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and iBooks.
Chime in Below…
Read the book? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.
Have additional recommendations of books that are helpful before, during or after a divorce? Share with us and other parents below ~