When you’re in the middle of a divorce or family law matter, trying to find court-approved parenting programs in your area shouldn’t be a hassle. After all, you already have enough on your plate and these classes are meant to be helpful – not add more stress.
As mentioned in, 8 Tips to Navigate Court-Ordered Parenting Classes in Minnesota, it’s worth double checking that the parenting program you select is court-approved before taking the class. In addition, it’s important that the parenting program you select is not only approved in the state of Minnesota, but also in the specific county where your case is filed.
So, here’s 4 ways to find court-approved parenting programs in your area.
Option # 1: YOUR PARENT EDUCATION COURT-ORDER
If you’ve already received your parent education order, there may be a list of court-approved parenting programs after the court order. Some counties in Minnesota (for example, Washington County) attach a list of court-approved parenting programs directly to the parent education order. If that’s the case, you may be able to find a court-approved parenting program from the court’s list behind the order.
However, the list attached to your court order, may or may not be current. The courts are very busy. Therefore, they may not have had time to update the list. Thus, some of the court-approved parenting programs that are listed may no longer exist or be offered in your county. Thus, you may need to do additional research and inquiry to ensure that a program listed still exists and is approved in your county.
Option # 2: YOUR COUNTY’S FAMILY COURT WEBSITE
If you didn’t get a list of co-parenting classes attached to your parent education order, the county’s family court website may have that information.
We have attached the following links for the following counties:
If you do not find your county listed above, you can search for your county on the Minnesota Judicial Branch website.
Please note, that just as the lists attached to a court order may not be current, the same goes for the information on these websites. Therefore, you may need to do additional research and inquiry regarding the programs listed on the courts’ websites as well.
Option # 3: YOUR DIVORCE OR FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY
If you have a divorce or family law attorney, another option is to ask him/her directly and s/he can help you find court-approved parenting programs in your county. Furthermore, your lawyer may be able to provide additional information about the programs and the providers and can help you with any of the processes along the way. For instance, if you have a divorce or family law attorney, s/he may be able to save you money by getting the fees for these parenting classes waived for you. Don’t be afraid to bring this issue up to your attorney, if s/he hasn’t already talked to you about it.
Option # 4: THE DISTRICT COURT ADMINISTRATOR FOR YOUR COUNTY
If you’re unsure if a parenting program is court-approved in your county, want to find a court-approved parenting program in your county or just want reassurance that a parenting program that you found is court-approved in your county, you always have the option of contacting the district court administrator for your county. Keep in mind, you may not be able to reach someone immediately. Therefore, contact him/her as soon as possible to ensure that you allow yourself enough time to participate in the program and meet the deadlines outlined in your parent education order.
Lastly, although the parenting program you select needs to be court-approved in your county, there are additional factors you’ll want to consider before choosing your co-parenting program.
Therefore, Read: How to Find the BestCo-Parenting Classfor You, and to make this entire process as stress-free as possible, here’s a Step-By-Step Checklist to help you 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.
Step-by-Step Instructions for a Parent Education Order
Step #1: READ YOUR PARENT EDUCATION ORDER & CALENDAR 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.
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/SIGN-UP FOR CO-PARENTING 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 PARENTING 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.
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.
Step #7: ATTEND & PARTICIPATE IN CO-PARENTING CLASS(ES)
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.
Step #8: COMPLETE ASSIGNMENT(S) AND/OR 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 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.
Step #10: SUBMIT DOCUMENTATION
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!
Just remember to 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.
Tell us, what are you hoping to get from your class(es) for your parent education order? And let us know if you found this checklist helpful or if there is anything we should add. Just drop us a message below.
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 ~