Florida law requires every parent be involved in a divorce proceeding to take an educational parenting course. It doesn’t matter if you’re the worst parent or the best parent in the world; this is a mandatory course and is a parental responsibility for both parents in Florida divorce.
In addition, there are parenting effectiveness training courses and self-help program available through local mental health associations. Also, there are even support groups for parents that can help you develop a positive parenting plan for your family.
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Parental conflict related to divorce is a real problem in Florida, and one that our lawmakers are determined to minimize whenever possible. We know that children can suffer both short-term and long-term effects when parents act crazy during a divorce.
A parenting course is designed to provide information to the parents regarding the process with which courts make decisions on issues affecting children and to provide suggestions on how parents can ease the effects on their family during a divorce. In other words, the class will help train and assist divorcing parents in regards to negative effects on their children, how to minimize those effects, and actually help the children survive and thrive.
While they can be longer, a Florida parenting course must be a minimum of four hours. It’s important to take a parenting course that has been approved by the local jurisdiction. So for example, in Pinellas County we have parenting courses that have been approved and easily found online with a Google search.
Note that parenting courses can be taken either online or in-person. However, it’s important to check with the judge that’s assigned your case to make sure that an online parenting course will be approved. There are certain judges that feel that this educational information is best absorbed when a parent attends in-person, and therefore will not allow an online course to fulfill the education requirement.
A Florida parenting course will provide general information about the following:
Once the parent completes the course, they will be the proud owner of a fancy certificate stating that they’ve completed the course, the name of the course, and the number of hours that they’ve attended.
We have our clients take a parenting course immediately at the onset of the case. It’s best to get that out of the way, and the information is a good supplement to the other information provided to our clients on our website. We ask our clients to immediately send us the parenting class certificate in digital form, so that we can get it filed with the court and let the judge know that our clients are doing what needs to be done.
Not completing the parenting course can throw a monkey wrench in the finalization of your divorce. In the worst-case scenario, judges have the power to turn over all decision-making responsibility to the parent who did complete the course until the other parent completes the course!
In fact, the statute gives the judge the power to hold a parent in contempt of court for not attending a course. That means that you could actually be sent to jail for not doing what you need to do. This is because completion of the course is mandatory under Florida law. Florida law states explicitly that everybody who has child-related issues to be brought before the court must take the parenting course as expeditiously as possible after filing a divorce. All parties must file proof of compliance (through their attorneys) with the court prior to entering the final phase of the divorce.
Don’t worry — there’s no requirement that you attend the parenting course with your soon-to-be ex-spouse. You’ll each attend in your own time at your own convenience. In fact, in situations where there is domestic violence it’s not uncommon for the court to actually prohibit both parties from attending a parenting course at the same time.
Each county in Florida is required to provide their own list of approved parenting courses. Statute allows each parent to be charged a reasonable fee; in Pinellas, Hillsboro, and Pascoe counties the going rate is $39 for the course.
Note that you may talk freely in the course should you want to do so. Information obtained or statements made by you or any party at these educational sessions is prohibited from being used against you in court.
While the statute only requires parents to attend one informational course, there are other community-based parenting courses throughout counties in Florida. Common ones include courses that are done over the course of eight weeks with a total of 12 hours. Many courses are age-specific, meaning there are different courses for children based on whatever age bracket they’re in. Usually there are courses for infants and toddlers, preschoolers, school-age children, and older adolescents.
While it’s not common for parents to voluntarily enter these parent effectiveness training courses, they are a great tool for the judge to help when a parent has not been actively involved in the child’s life and needs help getting themselves up to speed.
Likewise, the same community resources provide parents with the opportunity to join support groups to deal with parenting issues while going through dissolution of marriage. This helps the parents get different perspectives from other members in their group related to parenting and dealing with co-parenting with the other parent. A mental health professional usually serves as the leader of these groups.
In some cases something more aggressive is needed — such as an individualized special needs parenting session. For example, consider a parent who needs specific training on how the high conflict that they are experiencing can affect the preschool child. A judge can order such sessions and even further counseling to help that parent understand what they need to do to help their children succeed.
Finally, there are intensive parenting classes designed to meet changing needs of the family. These are divided into three 12-week, one-hour programs in a group format.
The first 12-week program works on effective, non-emotional parenting techniques used to aid specific types of behavior disorders.
The second 12-weeks works on communication skills for use with children and adolescents.
The third 12-week program is for parents to discuss current parenting difficulties and other pre-selected topics in a support group environment.
Need to Just Know Where to Sign Up? Check out the top parenting classes in your County!
Here are the top parenting classes in Hillsborough County!
Dr. Jeannine Jones has over 10 years of experience with Mental Health Counseling. She specializes in helping with live changing events, such as divorce.
Brenda is an experienced divorce/family mediator, divorce coach, skilled teacher/facilitator. She specializes in high conflict divorce resolution, mediation and high conflict coparenting issues.
Terrell Morrison is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She’s currently engaged in community outreach, teaching, mental health counseling, as well as psychotherapy.
Rose is now interning for completion of her MFT license. She brings years of experience in Case Management and Group Facilitating. Rose is under supervision for her skilled work in therapeutic intervention.
Rosmer Mena is a Clinical Social Work/Therapist who specializes in working with parents with children/teens with behavior issues, women experiencing domestic violence and any individual experiencing any mental or emotional distress.
The Family Therapy Center of Murcia is a private center with clinical activity and teacher specialized in the training of psychotherapists and in the orientation and treatment of problems and difficulties from a systemic approach relational.
Ryan is an Interim Director at Corporate College HCC. He specializes in adult education, employee training, and staff development.
Languages Offered: English, Other
Correspondence Courses Offered: None
Marietha Destin is a Marriage and Family Therapist with Destin Family Solutions, which specializes in child, adolescent, and adult issues including trauma, self-esteem, depression, grief/loss, and anxiety.
Since 1990, Education Programs has helped hundreds of thousands of couples make the transition to effective co-parenting through our instructor-led live classes and our online classes.
A Happy Child Parenting Course is a group class led by Danica Fields. This 4-hour course is not only for married parents, but also for unmarried parents seeking to establish custody. KidsNeedBoth.org also offers parenting class online.
A Happy Child Parenting Course is a group class led by Danica Fields. This 4-hour parent education program is targeted towards parents seeking divorce who have minor children.
Gordon Pilet is a Consultant to Interventions Enterprises Inc. He is a Court Certified Expert in Domestic Violence and Anger, State Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified SeniorSupervisor, and Licensed Therapist.
Near Pinellas and Pasco County? Here are parenting classes available for divorcing and indigent parents:
Thomas A. Mowrey is the founder of Center for Family Enrichment and currently specializing in Counseling and Human Relations. The Center also offers Florida parenting class online for divorcing parents.
SPC’s Lifelong Learning classes reach out to a community of learners of all ages and provide access to opportunities for intellectual and personal growth.
The A Parenting & Divorce Course Education Programs offer Court Ordered Parenting Classes for divorcing couples, Food Safety Training, and Food Service Manager Training and Certifications.
The Family Therapy Center of Murcia’s divorce class is available for Florida parents seeking professional support in this difficult time.
The Joyful Family Therapy is a mental health service led by Rosmer Mena, a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, and a Therapeutic Life Coach.
Dr. Kim E. Costello is a has over twenty years of experience as a therapist and counselor. In that time, she has helped hundreds of individuals, couples, and families through major changes in their lives.
Darlene Brower is a Certified Family Mediator and Owner at Helping Hands Document and Mediation. She specializes in mediation and conflict resolution.
Dr. Timothy L. Beard is the Vice – President For Student Development and Enrollment Management at Pasco-Hernando Community College.
This 4-hour divorce parenting class led by Dr. Timothy L. Beard focuses on parenting and childcare for parents seeking for divorce.
Phil Thomas is a motivational speaker and educator has been a Manager, academic advisor/counselor, instructor, and trainer for more than 20 years.
Todd B. Jeter is a Counselor – Addiction (Substance Use Disorder) based out of Eugene, Oregon and his medical specialization is Addiction Counseling.