How To Complete Your Parent Education Order

Although most parents are surprised by a parent education order from a judge, it’s not uncommon in family law cases involving child custody, parenting time, and/or child support in Minnesota.

Unfortunately, because most parents haven’t heard of a parent education order until a judge orders them to attend co-parenting classes, many parents don’t follow the proper procedures regarding a parent education order. As a result, parents end up unintentionally disrespecting and frustrating the judge early in their case.

However, when a judge is ruling over such important matters as the custody of your child(ren), parenting time, child support, etc…you need to be putting your best foot forward. To help you do just that, use these step-by-step instructions to walk you through a parent education order and our checklist (at the end of the article) to stay on track. 

Parent Education Order: Step-by-Step

Step #1: Read the order and 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. (Especially when they’re filled with legal jargon that you don’t understand.)

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 may 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. After a quick search on Google, you’ll see that there are several co-parenting programs out there. However, not all programs are the same.

In fact, only some programs are certified by the court and accepted for your court order. To save you time and reduce stress, read: How to Find the Co-Parenting Class for You. Once you know what you should be looking for, it’ll be much easier to compare the different programs.  

parent education order and coparenting classes
Research Parenting Classes for the Best Fit for You

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 in Step #2, 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(es). By not waiting till the last minute, you may be able to save money on child care by arranging your class(es) 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 (Minnesota), parents are expected to contact and register for class(es) within 10 days of the court order.

In addition, this registration deadline is 10 days from the date on the parent education order, not from the date you received 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(es) 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.

For more information about paying for the program, sliding fees, discounts and much more, read: 8 Tips to Navigate Court-Ordered Parenting Classes in Minnesota.

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 children shouldn’t be at the class.

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 not taking online – arrive 15 minutes before class begins, and don’t forget to factor in additional time for traffic and parking. 

parent education order
The Parent Education Class can provide valuable information for attendees.

Step #8: Complete Assignments and Take the 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 during Step #2, 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(es) and (if necessary) 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. Because, besides following proper procedures and deadlines for registering for the class(es) and taking the class(es), there are also certification deadlines. To illustrate, in Washington County (Minnesota), the certificate of completion should be submitted to the court and the other party within 10 days of completing the program. 

parent education order completion certificate example
You will receive a certificate of completion for the Parent Education Class

Step #10: Submit Documentation to the Court

In order to fulfill your parent education 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. Congratulations! You’re done! 

Keep all the documentation you submitted, along with your completion certificate and parent education order for your personal records.

Hopefully, now that you’ve seen all the steps involved in a parent education order, you have a better idea of how much time to set aside and the procedures involved. As promised, here’s a checklist for you to use when completing your parent education order. 

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.

Co-Parenting Class, Finding the Right One

As a separated or divorcing parent in Minnesota, you may be required to take a co-parenting class. Beginning in 1998, these classes have been part of a state-wide effort to provide parents with the support and resources to help their children adjust to family changes and work together effectively.

Unfortunately, many parents don’t know about these classes, until they’ve been court-ordered to attend. Understandably so, a parent education order can be an unsettling surprise for parents. However, we’ve found that the more parents know about these programs, the more helpful they’ve found the classes to be. Therefore, we’ve dedicated an entire blog series, The 411 on Parent Education in Minnesota Family Law, so parents have the information and resources to get the most out of this experience.

Parent Education in Minnesota Family Law

Most separated or divorcing parents find it reassuring to know that these classes aren’t “basic” parenting classes and they’re not handed out as a sort of “punishment” by the judge.

To learn why you’re being Court-ordered to attend and what these classes will be like, or to determine if you’ll need to attend a co-parenting class, check out our first article: Parent Education Program: Unknown Court Orders to Parents.

Next, check out our second article: 8 Tips to Navigate Court-Ordered Parenting Classes in Minnesota. The article covers frequently asked questions such as,
   

 “What happens if I don’t attend?” 
     “How much is this going to cost?” 
     “What if I can’t afford to pay?
     “Do I have to attend the same class as my Ex?
     “Can my Ex use what I say in class against me in court?

Now, as promised, our third article is committed to finding the best co-parenting class for you. When it comes to choosing a parent education program, your divorce lawyer or family law attorney can help. However, when it comes to the final decision, you’re the best person to decide. So to help you with the decision process, consider these 9 criteria to find the right co-parenting class for you.

Find the Best Co-Parenting Class for You

1. COURT-APPROVED

First and foremost, the co-parenting class needs to be court-approved in Minnesota. Specifically, the co-parenting class you choose needs to be approved and accepted within your specific county. Because counties vary, it’s essential you determine that the program is approved in your county before taking the class.

If the co-parenting class is court-approved, it means that the program has been selected because it meets the Supreme Court’s Parent Education Minimum Standards.

co-parenting class curriculum standards
Standards for Parent Education Programs in Minnesota

These 25 standards promote the quality of parent education programs in Minnesota. Although by law (Minnesota Statutes, Section 518.157, Subdivision 1 ), the county only has to offer one parenting program, most counties have a few available. Therefore, the rest of this list will help you narrow down your options.

Stay tuned to the series for more help with finding a court-approved co-parenting class in your county. 

2. CLASS FORMAT/SETTING

When you choose your co-parenting class, consider how the class is taught. For example, you may be taught in-person by an instructor, guided through self-study online, or a combination of both. The format of the class may be mainly lecture-based, or geared towards discussion and skills practice. In addition, it can be helpful to know how the material is presented. For instance, you may prefer handouts and take-home worksheets or maybe you value the visual guidance of a power point presentation and slide notes. Bottom line: When it comes to class format/setting, the most important thing is that you choose the class with the format and teaching style that is most compatible with your learning style. 

Additional questions to consider when evaluating Class Format/Setting include:

  • Are individual questions permitted at the end of the class or 1:1 sessions available?
  • What is the class size?
3. CONVENIENCE 

As a busy parent with a jam-packed schedule, convenience is a necessity these days. Finding a co-parenting class that is convenient for you to take, can reduce stress.

Therefore, it may be helpful to find a co-parenting class that is close by, and has designated parking. That way you don’t have to waste time searching for a parking space (especially if you’re in rush hour traffic).

Besides location, when you’re evaluating Convenience consider the following:

  • Program availability (How long before you can attend? Is there a wait list?)
  • Class Schedule (Time & Dates of classes offered)
  • Class Length (How long is each class?)
  • Number of Classes/Sessions You’ll Need to Attend

Typically, each co-parenting class is 8 hours long. However, the class will be taught in 2 sessions on different days, with each session lasting approximately 4 hours each. Parents are then required to attend both sessions, in order to fulfill the court’s parent education order.

Some of these parenting programs are organized so that the first session is an online course, and the second session is a 4 hour in-person class. In fact, in order to better accommodate parents’ busy schedules, Minnesota has approved some parenting programs that are entirely online.

If you’re interested in taking your co-parenting class with an online program, the following are additional questions to consider when evaluating Convenience: 

  • Is the online program available for you to take 24/7?
  • Can you save the work you’ve done and come back at a different time, or do you have to do it all in one sitting?
  • Do you have access to a computer, internet and the necessary software?
4. COST

Most programs in the Twin Cities area cost around $50 – $90. However, when calculating the total price of the class include additional costs, such as: costs for materials and tax (if applicable), and transportation and parking fees (if not taking the class online). Knowing the total cost to take a co-parenting class makes it easier when you’re comparing several programs.

Additional questions to consider when it comes to Cost include: 

  • If you can’t afford the class, is there a sliding fee scale or other additional discounts?
  • What happens if you’re not satisfied with the class, can you get a full/partial refund?
  • What type of payment method is required?
  • When is payment due for the class?
  • What is the cancellation policy regarding the class or what happens if you miss a class?
5. INSTRUCTOR & INSTITUTION’S CREDENTIALS

It’s important that the co-parenting class you take is taught by a qualified professional. Children and family therapists with experience in mediation, family law, counseling and adult education can be helpful class instructors.

In addition, some parents prefer to take a co-parenting class that is taught by two instructors, one female and one male. In return, they’ve reported that they felt more comfortable in the class and believed that they benefited by having more than one instructor’s perspective.

Besides considering who teaches the class, along with their credentials, training and experience, it can be helpful to consider the company and/or the institution’s reputation.

Typically, parents tend to feel more comfortable with a company or institution that has been in business for a while and is known as a leader/expert in the field. In fact, knowing more about the company can be particularly useful when you’re taking an online-only program and you’re not being taught by a specific individual.

6. CLASS CURRICULUM

As mentioned above, the supreme court sets certain standards for the program. Although these standards guide class curriculum, they’re just the bare minimum. Meaning, the standards dictate what must be taught in the class, but the class can cover more topics. Therefore, class curriculum can be different among court-approved programs. Therefore, to determine what you’ll be learning in the program, see a class outline. As mentioned in our second article, you may want to make a list of current issues and concerns, and then use this list to compare it to each class outline. Finding a class with a curriculum that interests you, that addresses topics you’re concerned about, and teaches skills applicable to your specific situation makes a big difference. 

7. CERTIFICATE OF COMPLETION

Also as mentioned in our second article, at the end of the program you should receive a certificate of completion. This completion certificate is essential because it’s your proof to the court that you followed the court’s order. Therefore, before deciding on a co-parenting class, find out how their certification process works. For instance, do you need to complete and pass an exam at the end of the program in order to earn your certificate?

If there is a final exam,

  • What score do you need in order to pass? 
  • If you don’t pass, do you need to take the whole program over again before you can re-take the exam?
  • Is the final exam timed? (If so, how long do you have to complete the exam, and how many questions is the exam?)
co-parenting class
You will receive a certificate of completion for finishing your co-parenting class

Additional questions to ask when learning about the Certification process include: 

  • How quickly do you receive your certificate after you’ve completed the program?
  • How do you receive the certificate? (For instance, is it mailed to you? Are you emailed and instructed to print it out yourself? Is it handed to you at the end of the class?)

These additional questions are important because (as you learned in our second article) you’re expected to notify the judge and the other party in a certain number of days after you’ve completed the class. In order to do so, you need the certificate to show you’ve fulfilled the parent education order.

8. TESTIMONIALS

When deciding which co-parenting class is right for you, consider what individuals who’ve taken the class have to say. Reading reviews from previous attendees can provide additional insight. And because most companies publish client reviews and testimonials directly on their website, it’s easy to do.

In addition, online reviews may be available through Google, Better Business Bureau, and Facebook Ratings and Reviews. However, don’t be alarmed if you can’t find several testimonials. Divorce and family law matters are a personal topic and therefore, a lack of reviews can be a result of a desire for privacy rather than an indication of the quality of a co-parenting class.

Besides reading reviews from previous attendees, you can also ask for referrals and recommendations from professionals or friends and family members who have gone through the program. Lastly, online support groups and forums can be an additional source for reviews from previous attendees.

9. CUSTOMER SERVICE & SUPPORT

Although hopefully you won’t have any problems, it can be reassuring to know that someone is there to help if they do arise. For example, if you end up having trouble taking the class online or receiving your certificate of completion.

Reading testimonials can give you an idea of their customer service and support, but it’s worth looking into deeper. This is especially true, if you’re taking the program online. In addition to determining if they have a customer support/help line, it can be beneficial to know the hours available.

If technical difficulties arise while taking your co-parenting class online, 24/7 technical assistance may be the difference between a 10-minute delay and having to wait and finish the class another day.

Hopefully, you now have a good idea of what to consider when it comes to picking a co-parenting class and you find the right one for you.

However, choosing a co-parenting class is just the beginning. Stay tuned for a “How To” guide for parent education orders to get walked through the entire process. We’ll also include a checklist to help you stay organized and on track.

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.

8 Tips to Navigate Court Ordered Parenting Classes in Minnesota

parenting classes in family law cases in minnesota
How to Prepare for Parenting Classes

In Minnesota, it’s not uncommon for separated and divorcing parents to be court-ordered to attend parenting classes during a divorce or custody case. Although parents don’t need a court order to attend these classes, the law requires some parents to participate. (Minnesota Statutes, Section 518.157). Unfortunately, most parents (reasonably so) aren’t aware of the requirement until they’re staring at an intimidating parent education order from a judge. With an introduction like this, it’s no wonder why most parents’ initial reaction is a combination of anxiety, annoyance and frustration.

Here are 8 tips to help you navigate court-ordered parenting classes and avoid some common costly mistakes.

8 Tips for Court-Ordered Parenting Classes 

Tip # 1 : Make the Most of It

These parenting classes were developed to meet the needs and concerns of separated and divorcing parents. Therefore, the class topics should be relevant, the information should be useful, and the skills should be applicable.

In fact, most parents tell us that these parenting classes are helpful. However, like most things in life, “You get out, What you put in.” Therefore, to get the most from the experience, be an active student. 

Being an active student throughout the entire process will help you get the most out of the experience. Before enrolling in a program, identify issues and concerns you have. Then, compare class outlines to determine if such topics are covered. Doing so, will help you select a program that’s right for you.

During the program, engage in class discussion, take notes and ask questions. After the program, apply the skills you learned when working with the other parent. Incorporate the knowledge you gained when you’re developing your parenting plan, divorce decree, custody arrangement, and/or child support order.

Lastly, continue reading the rest of these tips. Not only will these tips help you make the most of your experience, but they’ll decrease stress and prepare you for what’s ahead. 

Tip # 2: Know Your Rights

However, with that being said, it’s hard to “make the most of it” if you fear for your privacy and/or safety during the class. Therefore, it helps to know your rights when you’ve been court-ordered to take parenting classes.

First and foremost, unless both parties agree in writing, statements made during participation in a parent education program can’t be used later as evidence, for any reason.

In addition, class instructors can’t:

  • Disclose information learned about either party because of his/her class participation;
  • Make a record regarding a party’s participation (except a record of attendance and completion of the program); or
  • Be subpoenaed or called as a witness. (Minnesota Statutes, Section 518.157, Subdivision 5).

Lastly, if domestic abuse in the past or present is alleged, you can’t be forced to attend the same co-parenting session as the other party. Instead, the court must establish an order that allows the parties to safely participate in a parent education program. (Minnesota Statutes, Section 518.157, Subdivision 3).

NOTE: Some parent education programs such as, the Parents Forever Program (through an extension of the University of Minnesota), require the parties to attend separate classes to minimize disruption and increase participation.

Therefore, even if your court order doesn’t prohibit the other parent from attending the same session as you (or visa versa), the parent education program that you select may. Keep this in mind when you’re selecting and scheduling your parenting classes.

Tip # 3: Take it Seriously

If you’re court-ordered to attend parenting classes, you need to attend parenting classes.  If you don’t follow a parent education order and participate in a parenting program, the Court can impose sanctions, including contempt of court. (Minnesota Statutes, Section 518.157, Subdivision 4).

In addition, if you don’t actively participate in the program, or are disruptive, the class instructor may refuse to certify your participation in the program. Lastly, there are deadlines and certain procedures you’ll be expected to follow with your parent education order. Fortunately, not only do these tips address some of these procedures, but chances are, if you’re reading this article, you’re taking the order seriously.

If you request, have good reason and are excused by the court, you can get out of Court-ordered parenting classes. In Minnesota, the party who wants to be excused has the responsibility to request, show good cause, and obtain prior excuse from the Court. (Minnesota Statutes, Section 518.157, Subdivision 3).

Among other things, this would necessitate: drafting the proper documents; providing the required ‘proof’; filing with the court; and providing copies to the other party or his/her divorce lawyer or family law attorney.  Lastly, Courts rarely grant this request.

Tip # 4 : Do It As Soon As Possible 

The sooner you fulfill your parent education order and take the parenting classes, the better. 

Fulfilling the parent education order and completing parenting classes as soon as you can is beneficial for a number of reasons:

  1. You’re expected to register for, participate in, and complete your parent education program within a certain amount of time.* 
  2. It shows the judge and the other party that your children are your first priority and demonstrates your dedication and commitment to co-parenting.
  3. The skills you learn in the class are supposed to make you more effective and better equipped to work with the other parent. So, wouldn’t you want to be able to utilize those skills as soon as possible to help minimize conflict and settle disputes during your case?
  4. Similarly, the tools and knowledge you gain from the class can be incorporated into such legal documents, as your parenting plan, divorce decree, and/or custody order.

Parent education deadlines and procedures can differ depending on the county, previous court orders, and/or your specific situation. The court will expect you to know when you need to complete each task and follow correct procedures.

If you’ve been court-ordered to attend parenting classes, your court order may be a helpful guide for such deadlines and procedures. Therefore, make sure you carefully read, understand, and follow the court order.

Tip # 5: Do Your Research

However, ‘Doing it as soon as possible’ doesn’t mean you should rush out and take any parenting class, just because there’s an immediate opening. As explained in our first post (linked at the beginning), there are several types of parenting classes. Therefore, make sure that you’re taking the correct type, i.e. a parenting class for separated and divorcing parents. In addition, as mentioned in tip #1, selecting the right class will help you get more out of the experience.

In fact, to promote program quality and efficacy, the Minnesota Supreme Court and Chief Judges of the judicial districts are involved. The Minnesota supreme court sets certain standards and requirements for the program and then each judicial district is tasked with the responsibility of finding and offering at least one co-parenting program that meets the criteria. (Minnesota Statutes, Section 518.175, Subdivision 1).

Therefore, before paying and taking any parenting program, evaluate all your options and make sure the class you select is court-approved. That way, you don’t end up taking a class that doesn’t count. In addition, because counties can differ, it’s not enough for the parenting program to be approved in the state of Minnesota. Instead, make sure that the parenting program is court-approved in your specific county.

Tip # 6 : Leave Yourself Enough Time

Although enrolling in a quality program increases your chances of finding this experience beneficial, if you’re racing against the clock, nothing matters. Minnesota law dictates that the parent education program and orientation process is a minimum of 8 hours. (Minnesota Statutes, Section 518.157, Subdivision 3).

Not knowing any better, many separated and divorcing parents assume two days is enough time to complete a parent education order. Unfortunately, this estimate only accounts for class participation time.

Instead, for a more accurate estimate of how long it’ll take, consider all the tasks involved. Here’s a free step-by-step checklist to help you complete your Parent Education Order and plan accordingly. 

Lastly, part of making and allocating enough time, includes finding and arranging child care during class. Even if you’re taking the class online, it may still be helpful to arrange child care. The benefit of planning ahead and giving yourself enough time, is that you may be able to avoid child care costs. For example, by scheduling your parenting classes when your kids are with the other parent, at school, or in an extracurricular.

Tip # 7: Budget for It 

In Minnesota, most Court-approved co-parenting programs cost between $50 – 90. The Court expects each parent to cover his/her own class fees. However, if you’re having difficulty paying, some parenting programs have reduced rates and sliding fees. In addition, some parenting classes offer additional discounts (such as, for veterans and military personnel).

parenting classes
Besides sliding fees, some parenting classes for separated and divorced parents have additional discounts for active military personnel or veterans.

Therefore, it can be beneficial to ask about discounts and/or reduced rates before selecting a program. Lastly, in some circumstances (when In Forma Pauperis status has been approved by the court) your program fee may be waived; so you can attend for free or at a greatly reduced price. (Minnesota Statutes, Section 518.157, Subdivision 6). 

Tip # 8: Get Proof 

The program provider or class instructor should give you a certificate after you’ve completed the program. Your certificate of completion is evidence for the court that you completed the program.

In other words, without the certificate, you have no proof that you followed and completed the court’s order. Depending on the program, you may be handed your completion certificate, emailed a copy, or instructed to download and print the certificate yourself.

In addition, it’s important that the proper procedures and deadlines regarding the parent education certificate are followed. For example, in some counties (such as, Washington county) the certificate should be filed with the court and other party within 10 days of the completion date.

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.

The D-Word: Divorce Through a Child’s Eyes

The D-Word
The D-Word: Divorce Through a Child’s Eyes

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.

What’s “The D-Word” About?

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 “The D-Word” 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

The D-Word
Tara Eisenhard, Author of “The D-Word”

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 through her store on her website, or it’s also available in hardcover and eBook online at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and iBooks.

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.

Divorce Recall: Unveiling New Families

New families are developing today- families that involve separate households, step-children, coparenting, second marriages, and so on. So, what about society’s current views of divorce? Have they changed too? For families who are trying to move forward and the children stuck in the middle, the stigma of divorce can be very detrimental.

David Dickerman, author of Mom, Dad, and Everyone Else, a children’s book that uses clay illustrations to reframe the concept of divorce in a new light, challenges current notions of divorce in his featured article below. 

New Families in Today's Divorce

* Find information about the author, David Dickerman, read reviews for his children’s book about divorce, and where you can buy it at the end of this article. 

New Families in Divorce

Brave New Families

Every relationship is different. Some people gravitate towards a partner more similar to themselves in order to connect through common interests and backgrounds, while others prefer to be with their polar opposites in order to be challenged and exposed to new things. Since people are all different, no relationships can be identical. Therefore, it would stand to reason that every marriage would be different as well. If this logic is sound, would it not make sense that every divorce would be different too? 

Although the traditional view of marriage (with the woman staying home and caring for the house and kids while the husband works) has changed, our ideas about divorce remain the same. When the D-word is uttered, scenes of confrontational custody battles and alimony wars come to mind. However, generalities cannot be made about any relationships – whether it’s a marriage, family, divorce, etc…

Do some divorcing couples argue over custody and disagree about alimony? Yes, just like there are families where the wife stays at home while the husband works. However, there are also families where both parents work, same – sex couples, the father stays home, grandma moves in, sons and daughters play with step-siblings, etc…

As the nature of families change it is our responsibility, as a society, to acknowledge these changes and adapt. Just like we know more about medicine than we did a hundred years ago, we also know more about families and divorce. Therefore, it’s important that we continue to pass these evolving views down to our children.

Statistics show that people are now marrying later in life for reasons such as wanting time to establish a career and waiting to marry for love. This does not make the institution of marriage flawless. Nor does it change the fact that where there is marriage, there is also divorce.

Fortunately, changes have started to arise as the term “co-parenting” strutted onto the scene. Slowly, people are coming to accept that if children are involved, getting a divorce severs the marriage relationship, but gives rise to a new relationship with parenting.

As I mentioned before, families come in all shapes and sizes, and this also applies to divorced families. Some parents end contact with one another after the divorce and communicate with one another mainly through others, while some divorced families get together for sporting events and celebrate the holidays together.

Families are not the same because marriage is not the same. As a society we are trying to make a new type of family exist in an archaic construct. It is a losing battle that does not have to be lost if we reframe the idea of family and divorce to our children. 

People change and grow, sometimes in the same direction and sometimes not. If a couple produces children they both love, built something strong together, and end because they have become different people while still remaining friends, why is this considered a failure? Can a successful marriage end? It depends on how you handle the divorce…

By David Dickerman

New Families after Divorce

What are your thoughts? Is he on to something? Chime in below ~

About the Author:

David Dickerman was born in Dallas, Texas. He has a BA in Psychology from Syracuse University and pursued a Master’s in general childhood education and literacy from Bank Street College in New York City.

David began working with children at a young age as a camp counselor, and in after school programs. These experiences, coupled with his post-secondary education, prepared David for his multi-faceted career as a teacher, program director, literacy specialist, and educational consultant. David also shared that he identifies as an adult child of divorce (ACOD). 

David currently works as an assessment specialist in New Jersey and lives in the area with his wife, Laura; son, Spencer; and dog, Norman.

For reviews or to buy his children’s book about divorce, click: Mom, Dad and Everyone Else