Parent Education Class

Mother taking notes for parent education class
Get information of different programs, costs, and availability

Parents in Minnesota divorce and custody cases are required to complete a parent education class.  This will typically be ordered in one of the first documents received from the Court.

Unfortunately, because most parents haven’t heard of a parent education class, many parents don’t follow the proper procedures. As a result, parents may end up unintentionally disrespecting and frustrating the Judge in their case.

Parent Education Class: Step by Step Guide

Step #1: Read the order, calendar all deadlines

Step number one may seem obvious, but it’s still worth noting, since it can be tempting to skim over legal documents.  However, even if you have an attorney, you should carefully read all legal documents, including Court orders. Along with all legal documents, you can and should keep the parent education order for your records.

When reading your parent education order:

  • Highlight important deadlines and procedures. Because procedures and deadlines vary depending on your county, it’s important that you follow your specific parent education order. 
  • Put any deadlines (for example, for registering for a program, attending the class(es), completing the order, etc…) into your calendar right away.
  • Underline anything in the Court order that you don’t understand. Then, follow-up with your family law attorney or divorce lawyer for clarification.
Step #2: Research Parent Education Programs

After you’ve read your parent education order and calendared deadlines, it’s time to research programs. Each Court district maintains a web page with a list of parent education programs that serve that County.  However, not all programs are the same.

In fact, only some programs are certified by the court and accepted for your court order.

In addition, depending on your county, a list of parenting programs may be attached to your parent education order. If included, this list from the court can be a good place to start. Just check the date of when the list was updated as some of the programs may not exist anymore or program details (such as, cost) may have changed. 

Step #3: Select a Parent Education Program

Once you’ve researched different programs, it’s time to select the one that’s right for you. As mentioned above, you can’t just pick any class out there.

If you do, you may complete a program that isn’t certified by the court, and thus, won’t count towards your parent education order. Besides saving you time and money, by selecting the right program you’ll likely be more satisfied with the experience and find the class(es) worthwhile. 

Step #4: Register for the Program

As soon as you’ve found your program, sign-up or register for the class. Consider saving money on child care by arranging your class when your child is with the other parent, in school, or in an extracurricular activity.

Also, it’s important that you meet any registration deadlines. For instance in Washington County, parents are expected to contact and register for class within ten days of the court order.

Such specific details as these, are why it’s so important to carefully read and follow your specific parent education order. That way, you don’t end up unintentionally violating your court order.

Step #5: Pay for the Program

Depending on the program that you select, you may need to pay for the class ahead of time. Some providers request advance payment to reserve your spot in the program. Make sure that you get a payment receipt and/or a confirmation number for your records.

Step #6: Arrange Child Care

Depending on your situation, you may need to arrange for child care while you’re taking the class. If so, do it now, after you’ve paid for the program and your spot has been confirmed.  Your child(ren) shouldn’t be at the class.  In addition, as a general rule, your children should not be involved in the legal process.

Step #7: Attend and Participate

Although this step is self-explanatory, it’s worth mentioning because you won’t receive a certificate without attending and participating in the whole program. In addition to lack of participation, instructors and program providers can decline certification for disruptive attendees.

Therefore, come prepared to engage by getting a good night’s rest and turning your cell phone off before class starts. Lastly, if you’re not taking it online arrive 15 minutes before class begins, and don’t forget to factor in additional time for traffic and parking. 

parent education class
The Parent Education Class can provide valuable information for attendees.
Step #8: Complete Assignments, Take Final Exam

Depending on your program, you may be required to complete additional assignments outside of class. In addition, you may need to take and pass an exam at the end of the program. If you don’t pass the final exam, most online programs allow you to re-take the exam without having to take the entire program over again.

In fact, you can ask about this when you’re researching and comparing different programs. Lastly, it may be beneficial to factor in additional time if you need to re-take the exam, when you’re arranging child care and/or considering deadlines.

Step #9: Get Completion Certificate

Understandably so, many parents believe that they’re done once they’ve completed the class and passed the final exam. However, now you need to get your certificate of completion. Your certificate is proof to the Court that you attended and participated as instructed by the Court’s order. Without the completion certificate, you risk having to take the program over again.

Depending on the program, you may get your certificate immediately, or you may have to wait a few days. However, it’s important that you’re on top of this and that you follow-up if necessary. Besides following proper procedures and deadlines for registering and taking the class, there are certification deadlines. To illustrate, in Washington County the certificate of completion should be submitted to the Court and the other party within 10 days of completing the program. 

Step #10: file Completion Certificate with Court

In order to fulfill the order, the Court needs to be provided with proof that you completed the program. Along with your completion certificate from the program, this often involves drafting a corresponding document, filing with the court, providing copies to the other party, and obtaining verification that all documents were received.

If you provide the necessary and properly-formatted documentation, the Court should be able to easily identify:

  • The Court file number of the case;
  • Who completed the program;
  • Which parent education program was attended;
  • When the parent education program was attended;
  • That the program was completed successfully; and
  • The date of completion.

Once you’ve verified that the Court and the other party received all the required documentation, you’ve completed your parent education order.  Keep all the documentation you submitted, along with your completion certificate and parent education order for your personal records.

For other divorce or family law questions, please consult the list to the left or the FAQ page.  If you’re interested in retaining an attorney to help you, please feel free to contact my office for a consultation using the contact information on the left or the contact form on the Majeski Law home page.  For Court rules, please click here.