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Do I have to take a parenting class to get divorced?

At least nineteen (19) states have some kind of mandatory parenting class required that parents of minor children must take as part of the divorce process. In Alabama, legislation has been unsuccessfully proposed in recent years making parenting classes mandatory. Currently in Alabama, each County’s Circuit Court has discretion to order parenting classes or not. Judges can choose between ordering every couple divorcing to take a parenting class, no parents to take a parenting course, or some parents to take a course based on things like a history of discord between the parents.

Some counties in Alabama, such as St. Clair County, Calhoun County, Tuscaloosa County, and a few others, require parenting classes even in uncontested divorces if there are minor children of the  marriage. However, those districts will sometimes waive the requirement if the children are over sixteen years of age or under certain other circumstances. Do I need to take a parenting class to get divorced?Courts will often publish a list of approved courses for parents to take but most counties require you use the local providers. You should check with the clerk’s office in the county that is handling your divorce for the specific protocol where you live.

At least 48 states offer some kind of approved parenting classes, even if not all of them require such classes. Fees vary, but most tend to be less than a $100 for each parent. The goal is for parents to learn about increasing cooperation and how divorce affects children of different ages. The classes can also be used to assess whether the parents are involved in domestic violence.

Statistically speaking, there is some evidence that taking parenting classes decreases the likelihood of parents rehashing divorce issues once their divorce is over. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, divorced couples that took parenting classes have shown a 30% to 53% reduction in parental conflict and a 57% reduction in litigation, which includes child-access, change-of-custody and child-support disputes. The data from Alabama is less clear as only a few counties make parenting classes mandatory, and we are not aware of any studies that have been done to compare those counties with the rest of the state thus far.

With uncontested divorces there is usually less parental conflict, because for a divorce to be uncontested that means that the spouses agree on everything regarding custody and visitation after the divorce. Uncontested divorces are the cheapest, fastest, and almost certainly least stressful method of getting divorced. Letting a local family law attorney get you a smooth divorce can also help put children more at ease. That is why it’s important to go with an experienced local divorce lawyer who knows each county’s requirements to help you navigate through this difficult transition in your life.

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