What is the Parent Education Program?
Divorce will change your life. But above all, divorce will make you stressed and the stress may very well affect your mental health as well as how you parent in your daily life.
If you reside in the state of New Jersey and you are the parent of a minor child or minor children, dealing with custody and child support, you will be required to participate in the Parent Education Program at the beginning of your divorce. The program serves as an educational tool that focuses on the children of divorce. It educates parents about how their behavior impacts their children’s adjustment and overall emotional health. This program emphasizes the need for parents to participate in healthy co-parenting and the need to protect children from the parents’ potential hostility.
The spouses are scheduled to attend the session on separate days. Attendance is mandatory. The courts will monitor your attendance and require a completion of the program before you can get divorced.
The program is explained in N. J. S. A. 2A:34-12.3. Parent’s Education Program, which provides the following:
a. There is hereby established a mandatory education program to be known as the “Parents’ Education Program.”
b. The program shall be designed to assist and advise divorced parents on issues concerning divorce, separation and custody. The program shall be made available twice a month. The program shall be administered by the Administrative Office of the Courts. The Assignment Judge shall appoint appropriate staff to act as a program representative or representatives, as necessary, for each county.
c. The purpose of the program shall be to promote cooperation between the parties and to assist parents in resolving issues which may arise during the divorce or separation process, including, but not limited to:
(1)Understanding the legal process and cost of divorce or separation, including arbitration and mediation;
(2)Understanding the financial responsibilities for the children;
(3)Understanding the interaction between parent and child, the family relationship and any other areas of adjustment and concern during the process of divorce or separation;
(4)Understanding how children react to divorce or separation, how to spot problems, what to tell them about divorce or separation, how to keep communication open and how to answer questions and concerns the children may have about the process;
(5)Understanding how parents can help their children during the divorce or separation, specific strategies, ideas, tools, and resources for assistance;
(6)Understanding how parents can help children after the divorce or separation and how to deal with new family structures and different sets of rules; and
(7)Understanding that cooperation may sometimes be inappropriate in cases of domestic violence.
The program launched in 1999 and the advisory committee updates the curriculum each year. See Directive #11-99 – Parents’ Education Act (N.J.S.A. 2A:34-12.1 to 2A:34-12.8) (njcourts.gov). At the program, parents are provided with materials that describe how a child might feel or interpret their respective situation based upon their age. Additionally, children’s rights and family transitioning are discussed. Many of my clients have provided positive feedback about the program and often are excited that their spouse will attend the same course.