Under Florida law, divorcing parents and parties to a paternity action are required to take a parenting course approved by the Department of Children and Family Services known as a “Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course.” This article discusses the details and requirements of this course.
What is the Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course?
The Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course was developed by the Florida Department of Children and Family Services to educate and train divorcing parents about the impact of divorce on families. The course also covers information about spousal and child abuse or neglect and how to prevent and address it.
The Florida Department of Children and Family Services provides the court with a list of approved course providers and locations. Parent Education and Family Stabilization Courses can be completed on a sliding fee scale. Parents should check with the court to find courses that can be completed online or through correspondence.
What Are the Legal Requirements for Parenting Courses?
The party that files for divorce must complete the Parenting Education and Family Stabilization Course within 45 days after serving the divorce petition on their spouse. Both spouses are required to submit “proof of compliance” showing that they have met the time requirements for taking the course before the court’s entry of its final judgment and divorce decree. Taking the course is mandatory unless a party obtains court approval excusing them from the requirement, supported by good cause.
Any parent who fails to comply with the Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course requirement may be held in contempt of court by the judge. Significantly, a parent may be denied shared parental responsibility and timesharing rights.
Courts only have the authority to order a parent to attend these parenting courses if Florida statutes expressly authorize such an order under the circumstances. For example, Section 61.13(4)(c) grants courts the authority to order parents who fail to comply with a timesharing order to attend a parenting course. However, courts may not order a parent to participate in a parent education course simply because the court believes that the parent and children would benefit from their attendance.
Get Skilled Legal Representation from Schuttler, Greenberg & Mullins, LLC
If you are going through a divorce or paternity case involving minor children, you should consult an experienced attorney from Schuttler, Greenberg & Mullins, LLC. You can benefit from the expert advice of our attorneys as the Flordia Board of Legal Specialization has certified our attorneys as Specialists in Marital and Family Law. We understand the emotional stress parents experience when it comes to divorce or paternity matters. That’s why we provide compassionate legal representation that handles your individual experiences with the utmost respect and discretion.
Call Schuttler, Greenberg & Mullins, LLC at (561) 336-6082 or contact us online to schedule an appointment with one of our family law attorneys today.