Divorce is a major life event, and it can often be particularly difficult for children to go through. However, much of that difficulty can be reduced by parents who understand what their child is going through and have been taught how to properly handle these emotional issues. To that end, the Illinois Supreme Court introduced Rule 924. Rule 924 is a requirement that people party to child custody hearings must participate in parenting education classes that has been approved by the courts in the county in which the legal proceeding is taking place. From a practical standpoint, the available classes vary widely in their cost as well as in their format.
The Purpose of Parenting Education
The goal of parenting education classes is to equip parents with the tools they need to make custody issues and the divorce process emotionally easier for the children involved. Each county's approved programs are different, so the curriculum may vary from place to place. For instance, one of DuPage County's approved programs is the Caring, Coping, and Children Program. The core goal of this program is to help parents develop their relationship in a way that is healthiest for the children involved. This includes focusing on developing a “business-like” relationship between the parents, and working with them to put personal conflicts to the side so that they can better interact with the children. The program also contains a motivational component that works with parents to help them put the best interests of their children first. Cook County has approved a similar program, Focus on Children, which promotes many of the same values and also seeks to reduce the amount of litigation that occurs between parents in the divorce to promote a conflict-free environment for the children.
Many parents who will have to take these classes are often concerned about practical issues like cost and timing, which vary depending on the county and program. From a time commitment perspective, the amount of time required depends on the course, though Rule 924 mandates that the course last for at least four hours to qualify for approval, and most programs are about that long. Cost is a more variable factor. For instance, Focus on the Children costs $25.00, a cost that can be waived by court order, but some programs can cost as much as $100 for the session.
Another quality that parents should look into is the format of the class. Some courses are in-person sessions, while others are online offerings. The online offerings are often more convenient, and some can be completed at the parents’ schedule over a month's time, but they are also often a more expensive option.
If you are considering seeking a divorce or you have recently been served with divorce papers, reach out to an experienced Wheaton family law attorney today to help understand your rights.