Divorcing couples face stress from a number of places, including the legal system they need to officially end their marriage. One of the more difficult and complicated issues to address is the division of parental responsibilities. Child-related matters always spark strong emotions, and the sensitive issues that must be resolved as part of divorce only tend to exacerbate this tendency.
One requirement that confuses some parents is when they must attend a court-ordered parenting class before a divorce decree is issued. This is true even in uncontested divorces, and compliance is mandatory in all but a few cases. Thus, parents will need to arrange to complete a course no later than 60 days after the first case management conference. This requirement can seem frustrating and arbitrary to some parents, but understanding the purpose behind the course, what to expect during the course itself, and the consequences of not satisfying this requirement, may make it easier to get through the experience.
Why This Course Exists
To put it simply, this parenting course exists because the Illinois Supreme Court says all county and circuit courts must require them as part of deciding any child-related case. More specifically, the court is hoping to teach parents about the components of dividing parental responsibilities and how conflict over these issues impacts the mental well-being of the child. Thus, the intention is that by attending this course, parents will find an amicable path to resolving parenting issues that do not include intense court involvement.
What to Expect
Parenting courses are offered online and in person. Whether a parent is eligible for the online version depends on the county in which he/she lives. In Cook County, parents in an uncontested divorce can opt for the online program without specific permission, but contested cases must be completed in-person. Some counties require permission for any parent seeking to take the online course, and some do not offer an online option at all. The course itself is four hours long, and if taken in-person, the parents will not be scheduled on the same day to avoid the possibility of conflict. The content of the course is oriented around helping parents understand the child’s experience of divorce, the consequences of divorce, and how to help children process this transition. Note that many judges will not finalize a divorce without both parents proving they completed the course, so getting it out of the way as soon as possible is best.
Consequences of Not Completing the Course
Parenting education may seem like a minor detail in the scope of an entire divorce case, but ignoring or forgetting this mandate is not a good idea. Courts can sanction a party for failing to complete the course, and convincing a court to excuse attendance is an uphill battle. Getting excused from attendance requires filing a motion and showing good cause for the request, which will only be granted if it is in the best interests of the child. This entire process will take more time and money than taking the course, so it is rarely worth the effort. If being excused is a pressing issue, talk to a divorce attorney about the likelihood of convincing a judge this request is justified.
Contact a Wheaton, IL Divorce Attorney
Getting divorced requires more than just filing a petition. A number of supplemental issues must be completed before a court will sign off on a divorce agreement. Rather than risk your divorce being delayed because you missed one of these requirements, hire an experienced divorce attorney who can handle the court filings and let you know what you need to do to finish the divorce process. The skilled DuPage County family law attorneys at the Andrew Cores Family Law Group will use their decades of experience to help you get the best possible divorce terms. Contact us today at 630-871-1002 for a free consultation.