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Florida Divorce: Parenting Courses


When it comes to divorce cases, there are several things that parents need to do to ensure they get a favorable outcome. For example, in Florida, parents of minor children are required to take parenting courses before they can obtain a court-ordered final divorce judgment. While you might feel like this requirement questions your ability to care for your child, parenting courses actually have important purposes. Generally, a parenting course is intended to help children cope with the effects of divorce, considering parents need to make decisions that are in their children’s best interests. Additionally, no matter how you feel about parenting courses, keep in mind that failure to complete a parenting course can lead to negative consequences.

Parenting Courses in Florida

In Florida, the parenting course a divorcing parent is required to complete is known as the Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course. When Florida lawmakers introduced this course, they were mainly thinking about helping;

  1. children cope with the short-term and long-term effects that come with divorce, which include economic, emotional, and educational changes, and
  2. parents make decisions that are in the best interests of their children.

To help children cope with the effects that come with divorce and parents make decisions that are in their children’s best interests, Florida lawmakers implemented parenting courses that provide information about, among others, the following:

  • The issues and legal procedures for resolving timesharing/child custody and child support disputes.
  • The emotional problems and experiences of divorcing adults.
  • Family dynamics and family relationships.
  • Financial responsibilities to a child or children.
  • The consequences of divorce.
  • The availability of community services and resources.
  • The emotional needs and concerns of a child involved in a divorce.
  • Issues regarding spousal or child neglect and abuse.

According to Florida Statute 61.21, a parent is more likely to consider his or her child’s best interest if he or she has information regarding how courts make decisions on matters affecting children and suggestions as to how a parent may ease the coming adjustments for his or her child. Parenting courses provide such information and suggestions.

Fulfilling the Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course Requirement

Firstly, according to the law, a parent is supposed to take a parenting course approved by the Department of Children and Family Services. Secondly, the parenting course you take needs to be a course of a minimum of four hours designated to educate, train, and assist parents in regard to, among others, the things outlined in the previous section. Also, all parties to a divorce proceeding are required to begin the course as soon as they can. According to the law, unless excused by the court, a petitioner must complete a parenting course within 45 days after he or she files a petition. On the other hand, the other party must complete the course within 45 days after the service of a petition.

If you fail to complete a parenting course, you might delay the finalization of your divorce, be held in contempt of court, or face other court sanctions. Failure to complete a parenting course can even lead to you being denied shared parental responsibilities.

Contact Us for Legal Help

There are many other requirements that parents must meet when going through a divorce. At the Lasky Law Firm, our Jacksonville divorce lawyers can inform you of those requirements and help you meet them. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.


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