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What is Florida’s Parenting Course and Why Do I Have to Take It?

Florida statute 61.21 explains parenting courses in the state of Florida. Parenting courses must be taken by parties to a marriage dissolution with minor children or in a paternity case when a case involves determination of parental responsibility. The classes must be completed by a petitioner within 45 days of the filing of the petition. A respondent must complete the classes within 45 days of service of the petition. The classes must also be completed before entry of a final judgment. A judge may waive the timeline or the classes all together if they are so inclined.

Why am I Required to Take A Parenting Class?

The short answer is because Florida statutes say you have to, unless a judge waives the parenting classes. The statute does include language explaining the state’s reasoning. The statute states that it is in the best interest of the children if the parents understand the process and the impact it could have on their children. According to the statute it is important that the class be taken as early in the process as possible. The state of Florida believes educated parents will make better decisions regarding what is in the best interests of their children.

What Topics are Included in the Parenting Class?

There are a number of topics that should be covered in a parenting class. The classes must include teaching about the emotional impact of divorce on children and adults. The classes will include the legal aspects of resolving child issues between parents. They should cover the financial obligations of the parents, as well as family relationships. Spousal and child abuse will also be covered. Finally, the classes will also include generalized training on families, the workplace, school and neighborhood relationships. The classes are required to be a minimum of four hours in length, and are educational. They are not designed to provide individualized mental health care to the parties. The class will also not provide legal advice to the parties.

Who Can Provide the Parenting Classes?

The providers must be approved by the Department of Children and Families. The Department has identified a provider in each judicial district, including providers that charge on a sliding fee scale basis. There are also statewide classes available on the internet. This is designed to make classes available to all residents and individuals living out of the state of Florida that are subject to this provision.

Is the Information I Provide in the Class Confidential?

Any information revealed during the class cannot be used in court proceedings. No report generated as a result of the classes will be admissible in further court proceedings.

What Happens if I Do Not Take the Parenting Classes?

If you do not participate in parenting classes, you can be found to be in contempt of court. Failure to attend the courses can also result in a denial of shared parenting responsibilities or shared custody time.

What if I Don’t Want to Take the Class with My Ex?

The parties do not need to attend the classes together.

Reach Out to Our Office Today for Help

If you are considering a divorce, and have children in common, it’s a good idea to consult with a Florida divorce attorney who is familiar with child custody issues. Contact Fort Lauderdale attorney Sandra Bonfiglio to discuss your family’s future.

Resource:

leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0000-0099/0061/Sections/0061.21.html

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