Over stressed and over-worked parents are sometimes dismayed to find that they must find time to take this course. A course of this type can be from 4 -12 hours long (Four hours is more typical). In some Texas courts an approved online course is allowed. However, be aware that some judges require that the course be taken “live”. At the time of writing this blog, the 418th District Court in Montgomery County is requiring live courses. That is the Judge’s prerogative.
Sio’s Family Law Tips… All About Parenting Class Requirements
The Texas family code gives courts the specific authority to order the parties in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship to take a parenting class. (a divorce with children, custody/visitation case, and paternity case are all examples of suits which affect the parent-child relationship). The parenting class requirement is found in Texas Family Code Section 105.009.
The course is intended to “educate and assist parents” about the emotional effects of divorce on parents and children, behavioral reactions to divorce in young children & adolescents, parenting issues at different stages of development, stress indicators in children, conflict management, family stabilization & co-parenting, financial responsibilities of parents, family violence & neglect, and availability of community services and resources.
The law specifically states that the court may hold a party in contempt, strike pleadings, rule against the party, and invoke sanctions (this may include monetary sanctions). The judge can find against the party who refuses to attend which can affect custody, visitation and other issues in the lawsuit. It is not worth the risk.
Courts have been known to put a stamp on the pleadings stating “This Court will not enforce this agreement until the parent submits a valid parenting class certificate”. This means that if a parent is denied rights that they are given in that decree (example; visitation) and the parent who has been denied the rights returns to the court and asks for the court’s assistance in enforcing his/ her rights, the court will not hold the non-compliant party in contempt.
If a party cannot afford the class, they can be allowed to take a class that is offered on a sliding fee basis (make sure that particular class is accredited and acceptable to that court).
If someone has taken a parenting class within five years then they may not have to take it again. (again, make sure this will be acceptable and that the class was accredited in Texas and will count).
If you have been told by your attorney, or the court clerk or the court’s paperwork that you must take a parenting class, don’t wait until the last minute to do so. Don’t even think about showing up in court and hoping that the subject doesn’t come up. It will!
If you are represented by an attorney, give the certificate to your attorney as soon as possible so that it can be placed in your case file in the law office and at the court.
If you are representing yourself, check with the court where your case is filed to find out if the certificate must be filed before your hearing or if you may bring it with you.
Many, if not most, people actually enjoy the class, even if they did not expect to. Almost everyone takes at least one important thing from the class…. a new way of looking at things, a new idea on what to say to a child, how to better handle stress. And, these days, who doesn’t need a little extra help?