Parents in Minnesota divorce and custody cases must complete a parent education class. The Court orders this in one of the first documents issued in a case.
Unfortunately, because most parents haven’t heard of this, many don’t follow the proper procedures. As a result, parents may unintentionally disrespect and frustrate the judge in their case.
Parent Education Class: Step by Step Guide
Step #1: Read the order, calendar all deadlines
Even if you have an attorney, carefully read all legal documents including Court orders. Along with all other legal documents, keep the parent education order for your records.
In the order highlight important deadlines and procedures. Procedures and deadlines vary by county. So, it’s important to follow that particular county’s rules.
In addition, calendar any deadlines (for example, for registering for a program, attending the class(es), completing the order, etc…).
Also, if you’ve retained an attorney, underline anything in the Court order that you don’t understand. Then, follow-up with lawyer for clarification. This is true for all legal documents.
Step #2: Research Parent Education Programs
After step 1, 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.
Additionally, depending on your location, the county may provide a list of parenting programs with the parent education order. If included, this list is a great 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, select the one that’s right for you. The most typical considerations are cost and the need for travel. Besides saving 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 picked a 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 to 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.
Step #5: Pay for the Program
Depending on the program, a parent may need to pay for the class ahead of time. Some providers request advance payment to reserve a spot in the program. Make sure to get a payment receipt and a confirmation number for your records.
Step #6: Arrange Child Care
Depending on the situation, a parent may need child care while taking the class. If so, do it now after a spot has been confirmed. No children should be at the class. In addition, as a general rule, children should not be involved in the legal process.
Step #7: Attend and Participate
Attendance and participation in the program is mandatory. A parent 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. Don’t forget to factor in additional time for traffic and parking.
Step #8: Complete Assignments, Take Final Exam
Depending on your program, parents may need to complete assignments outside of class. More typically, parents may need to take and pass an exam at the end of the program.
If a parent doesn’t pass the final exam, most online programs allow a re-take of the exam without having to take the entire program over again. In fact, a parent should ask about this when you’re researching different programs.
Step #9: Get Completion Certificate
At this point, parents will get their certificate of completion. This is critical. Parents send the certificate to the Court. This proves a parent attended the class and satisfies the order. Without the completion certificate, a parent may need to take the program over again.
Depending on the program, parents can collect their certificate at the session, or at least within a few days. Besides deadlines for registering and taking the class, there are certification deadlines. For example, in Washington County parents should submit the certificate of completion 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, parents file the certificate with the Court along with a correspondence. In the correspondence, 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.
After this, a parent has completed the parent education class process. Keep all the documentation submitted. Also, keep the completion certificate and parent education order for 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.