The notion that you should suddenly be required to have to have a parenting class just because you’re getting divorced may seem a little insulting — after all, you’ve been doing the job since your oldest child was born, and a divorce isn’t going to change that.
However, parenting as it relates to divorce is more about how to provide a unified front and how to work with your ex-spouse to provide stability for your child — which is a task that married parents can do much more easily. They aren’t required to work out a visitation schedule and come to an agreement over what access each parent will have to the children during holidays.
Because of the number of fights the courts have seen regarding child custody and visitation, child support and other issues that divorced parents can end up disputing, there are now 17 states that require all parents to go through parenting classes — even if the divorce is amicable and uncontested. Hawaii is one of them.
Here are the basic goals of parenting classes and what you will learn:
— How to minimize your interaction with the other parent while successfully addressing issues involving the children.
— How to focus your attention on your children more fully when you have physical custody of them. This helps kids feel less neglected or lost in the midst of their parent’s divorce.
— How to stay conscious of the need to minimize your anger toward your ex-spouse in front of your children so that the children maintain a healthy relationship with their other parent.
— How to tell the difference between children that are adjusting well after divorce and children that are showing signs of trauma or maladjustment. It can be difficult to tell, sometimes, what’s ordinary teen angst and what’s “acting out” in order to relieve internal conflict about the divorce.
Regardless of whether or not you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse have a handle on the child custody and parenting issues or not, there is no way you can opt out or test out of the classes. Consider it just another step in the process that will get you toward your ultimate goal: a finished divorce. For more information, seek the services of an attorney as soon as possible.
Source: Kids First Hawai’i O’ahu Program, “Welcome to the Kids First Website,” accessed June 16, 2017