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Classes help parents put kids first during divorce

Divorce not only affects the couple involved, it can also make a lasting impact on the couple’s children. The problem is that because divorce can be such an emotional and dramatic process, children’s needs can be forgotten, or worse, children can be treated as pawns.

To help parents better understand and acknowledge the needs of their children during the divorce process, many states offer parenting classes. In fact, the parenting classes are required in some Tennessee jurisdictions.

Additionally, well over a dozen states have decided to implement a statewide mandate on the parenting classes. Other states, such as North Carolina and Kentucky, let judges decide when the classes are needed.

The Alabama legislature is currently considering a bill that would require all divorcing couples with children younger than 16 to take a four-hour parenting class. The sponsor of the bill said the classes make sure children “are taken into account” during the divorce process.

He said data suggests that the classes also lead to less conflict between the parents down the road. In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service reports that some of the programs it offers have led to a 57 percent reduction in litigation in subsequent custody matters such as child support disputes.

Essentially, the classes teach parents about cooperating to raise their children as well as how the divorce could affect their children based on the children’s ages. The classes, which are relatively inexpensive and available online in most jurisdictions, typically assess whether domestic violence is an issue.

Even if it’s not mandated in your jurisdiction, all parents going through divorce have the option to take parenting classes through a government program or a private business.

Source: The Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser, “Ala. looks at mandating divorce classes for parents,” Kala Kachmar, Feb. 25, 2014