By: Cheryl D. Kelly
In the State of Georgia, most courts require parents in custody cases (including legitimations) and in divorces (whether contested or uncontested) to attend a parenting class. The purpose of the seminar is generally to provide parents with information on the divorce process, and how it affects children. The goal of these seminars is to give parents the tools to effectively communicate with their child(ren) and the other parent throughout this challenging process and beyond. Typically, court-ordered family seminars focus on how effective co-parenting during this time of transition can minimize the negative impact of divorce and parental separation on children. Participants will also learn how to avoid placing their children in the middle of their adult conflict, as well as signs of physical abuse, mental abuse, and sexual abuse, and ways to handle negative behavior caused by the divorce or separation process.
To register for the parenting class, a parent should contact the courthouse where they filed their divorce petition. Each county has different requirements to satisfy their parenting class requirement. Some counties do not mandate parenting classes, at all. However, a judge may still require the parents to attend a parenting seminar if he or she feels it is necessary. In this instance, the judge will direct the parent to the appropriate avenue to complete parenting requirement. In the Georgia counties that mandate parenting classes like Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett and Cobb County, each county has an in-person class and some counties allow for the class to be satisfied online (Fulton and Cobb County). Superior court websites typically indicate the appropriate avenues to satisfy the parenting seminar requirement. At a minimum, each county usually has one parenting class per month, and most of the Metro-Atlanta courts have multiple classes with a morning and evening class schedule. While each county may vary, the average length of a parenting class is four hours. Depending on the county, parenting class can be held during the week or on the weekend. Parents should refer to county website to determine available dates for parenting class. Keep in mind, not all counties allow online parenting courses. If you desire a quick divorce or custody outcome, you should ensure that you have taken the required parenting class as early as possible. It can be taken before the case is filed.
Even though parenting class is required in most Georgia divorces and custody cases, parenting classes are not free. Each parent is required to pay a fee which ranges from $30 to $60 dollars per person. In the Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton county, the course is offered in person for $30 dollars. In Cobb County, the course is offered for $50.00 dollars per attendee, and in Gwinnett County the required parenting class is offered for $40 dollars per person. Some counties, like Henry County do not mandate parenting classes but a judge will have the ultimate say as to if a parenting class is required. In this instance, the judge will direct the parent to the appropriate avenue to complete parenting requirement.
If your custody or divorce case with children is currently pending and you have not seen much progress, there is a chance you have not fulfilled the parenting seminar requirements. We urge you to sit down with an attorney to ensure you have met all the legal requirements to get what you want from the court. Court’s routinely delay the entry of a final order in custody cases and in divorces if parties have not taken the required parenting seminar.