The state of Illinois requires that all parents of minor children who are part of any legal action regarding allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody) or visitation (parenting time) attend and complete a court-authorized parental education program. This requirement not only applies to the initial legal action but also to any modification to standing custody orders, as well as any motions regarding relocating the minor child to another state.
Each county oversees creating or approving their own parenting program. Programs must be at least four hours long and provide education to parents about the ways that custody and parenting time impact their child.
Depending on the requirements of their county of residence, parents may have the option of either taking the classes in person or taking them online. However, before signing up for any classes, it is important to investigate whether or not the class you want to take is approved by the court your custody case is being heard in.
Typically, the first half of parenting education program focuses on the children and teaches parents what emotions their child may be dealing with and how to help them with those emotions.
The second half of the program teaches parents how to effectively co-parent together. Parents are taught the skills to be able to set their own conflicts with each other aside and to focus on the needs of their child. For parents who still have intense acrimony with each other, the program teaches them how to keep their parenting relationship “business-like” and not make their child feel torn over having to choose sides.
The classes are usually offered in three categories:
- For couples who are currently in the midst of a divorce, there is the pre-decree class;
- For couples who are already divorced but are seeking a modification to the current order, there is a post-decree class; and
- For couples who have a child or children together but were never married, there is the parentage class.
As stated above, these classes are mandatory for anyone involved in any type of custody case in the state. Attendance may be waived under some circumstances, but only the court can make that decision and the request needs to be made formerly by filing a motion to be heard by the family court judge handling your case.
If you are having any type of child custody issues, contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney for assistance. Call Mulyk Laho Law, LLC today at (630) 852-1100 for a free consultation.