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Divorce Parenting Classes in Arizona: State Requirements

Given that terminating marital relations is a great stress not only for spouses but also for their children, some states introduce mandatory parenting divorce classes before granting a marriage dissolution.

Attending a parenting class for divorce in AZ is court-ordered and is required for all parents who file for divorce and have minor children. A parenting class during a divorce in Arizona is called a parent information program (PIP) in some counties. It is intended to share knowledge with parents regarding the adaptive period and issues they may face in raising children after splitting. The rules and requirements for completing AZ parenting class are specified in the current legislation.

In this article, we will find out the advantages of parenting classes in Arizona, laws regarding their attendance, and the cost of the programs. In addition, we will discuss whether parenting class for divorce is mandatory for both parents and the consequences of avoiding its completion.

What Is Parent Education and Why Do Some States Require It?

Parenting classes for divorce are designed for parents to acquire the necessary skills for raising kids in the new conditions that arise after a marriage dissolution process. Their main purpose is to help children and parents adapt to a new way of life when they start living separately and follow a visitation schedule. Contrary to popular belief, a parenting program will not teach you how to take care of a child physically; it will help you cope with stress during the divorce and after it and find a proper approach to communication with children and future ex-spouse.

Why are parenting classes important? Even if your case is uncontested, a parenting program may be helpful. Most parents who completed it during the divorce note that their relationship with their children has become more trusting and friendly. In addition, they had less conflict with the other party and more easily found a compromise in matters of child custody division. Parenting classes can help you understand what emotions and feelings divorce causes in your children and how not to make the kids the epicenter of the conflict with your spouse.

Are parenting classes mandatory? While in some states the completion of parenting programs is required by law, in others, it is optional and can be ordered in specific cases such as contested ones. In Arizona, parenting training must be completed by all parents; it is defined in the Arizona Statutes.

How long is the parenting class for divorce? It depends on the state and, sometimes, on a separate county. Most often, parenting programs last from 2 to 4 hours. In some regions, they are available offline or online. Education rules for parents also differ; in some states, they can attend classes together, while in others, they must appear separately.

Features of Arizona parenting classes also vary from county to county. You can get more information about it online or from the court clerk.

Parenting Classes in Arizona Family Law

According to АZ SТ 25-352, completion of the parent information program class is mandatory for all cases involving biological or adopted minor children common to both parents. Future ex-spouses can attend Arizona divorce parenting class online or offline; this option may vary depending on the county.

Although the plan of parenting classes court-ordered in a particular case may have its specifics, the basic standards for the programs are defined in AZ ST 25-351. Under them, the court-ordered parenting classes for divorce should contain the following topics:

  1. The emotional, psychological, and financial consequences of divorce on children and parents.
  2. Possible alternatives to marriage dissolution.
  3. Resources that can help strengthen the family, etc.

According to the decision of the family court, parenting classes may not be required in some cases (AZ ST 25-352) if:

  1. The court considers that attending parenting training is not in the best interests of the child.
  2. One of the parties is already or will be a participant in a comparable program.
  3. The spouses have already completed a similar course.

How long are court-ordered parenting classes? Under ACJA §3-202, the parenting program must last no less than 2 and no more than 6 hours. It is recommended by the Arizona Judicial Branch that spouses attend it separately. It can facilitate better communication between each parent and the instructor.

No matter the county or court, parenting classes are typically paid; their cost may vary but cannot be more than $50 (AZ ST 25-355). If spouses are low-income and cannot pay the fees, they can file an Application for Deferral or Waiver of Court Fees or Costs and Consent to Entry of Judgment. After reviewing it, the court may exempt the couple from expenses for attending the parenting class.

To confirm the completion of parenting classes for court, you need to get forms verifying your attendance from the instructor and submit them to the county clerk’s office. In some counties, the instructors forward them to the court themselves.

Benefits of Parent Education

In most cases, parenting programs have a positive impact on relationships between future ex-spouses and between parents and children. The need to attend education classes does not mean you are a bad parent and cannot cope with taking care of your children. It only prepares you for possible difficulties during and after the divorce, for which you or your kids may not be ready.

What do parenting classes teach? Their main purpose is to train you to communicate with your ex and children, negotiate child custody issues, and resolve potential conflicts.

What do you learn in parenting classes in Arizona? Parenting programs are extensive and can cover a large number of topics, such as:

  1. The impact of conflict between parents on the emotional and psychological state of children.
  2. Factors promoting children’s adaptation to new conditions.
  3. Communication skills between family members living separately.
  4. Children’s reaction to divorce at its various stages.
  5. Signs of psychological or other problems that may appear in children’s lives due to parental divorce.

Many people consider PIP to be necessary only for contested divorces. However, in uncontested cases, parenting information received at the classes will also benefit all parties to the process. It will strengthen the relationship of children with their parents and provide spouses with additional insights into raising kids.

The main benefits of parenting classes are that they:

  1. Establish communication between all members of the former family and prevent potential problems between them.
  2. Reduce the level of tension and conflict between spouses and assist in reaching agreement on custody issues.
  3. Help children cope with changes in their lives and maintain friendly relations with both parents.

Attending a parenting program is an important step for a family going through the divorce process.

Tips for Attending Parental Education Courses

Dissolution of marriage may be very stressful for children who used to live in a full-fledged family. No one can predict how kids will react to the upcoming change of circumstances. However, advice on how to help children overcome stress will surely be among the topics for parenting classes. Some tips on how to take full advantage of an education program, go through the adaptation period effectively, and start a new life are presented below.

Never Blame Your Child for Issues Between You & Your Ex

Even if you and your spouse cannot agree on the divorce terms and are in conflict, you must protect the kids from disputes. Children should not feel as if you blame them for the problems that arose in your family life. Control your anger and do not argue with the other party in front of them so as not to aggravate the effects of divorce on children.

Be Punctual

You should not be late for classes, as it may indicate your irresponsibility and contempt for instructors. Even if you are very busy, you need to adjust your schedule so that you can come on time.

Arrive with an Open Mind

While studying, be focused and do not get distracted by extraneous problems or thoughts. Try to be attentive and open to new knowledge.

Participate Actively

You should not skip classes and be passive. You can ask the children how they feel and what support they need to discuss their suggestions in more detail during the visit to the educational program.

Listen and Reflect

You need to listen to the instructor and participate in the discussion of course issues. Feel free to ask questions to understand the topic better.

Apply What You Learn

Put everything you learned during training into practice. Use the new tools the instructor advises and observe what effect they have on your specific situation.

Ask for Support

If a topic seems difficult for you to understand, you can ask the instructor for additional help in studying it. Some issues may be less relevant, while others require more time to discuss.

Your main task in completing parenting classes is not just to comply with a court order but to improve your relationship with your children and facilitate a smoother transition from family to a separate life.

What If Your Ex Won’t Take the Parenting Classes?

Given that the completion of parenting classes is mandatory in Arizona, both spouses must comply with this requirement and obtain a parent education certificate.

What happens if you don’t take the parenting class for divorce? Failure to follow a court order can impact the court’s decision to grant a divorce or reconsider its terms in the future.

According to AZ ST 25-353, the court may reject the parents’ petition for divorce until they attend parenting classes or apply other sanctions. If one parent has complied with the requirement to complete training and the other has not, the judge may still issue a divorce decree. However, if the parent who avoided attending the program asks to make changes to the existing court decision regarding the child-related matters, the court may dismiss their request until they complete the mandatory PIP.

If the other party refuses to participate in parenting classes, you can try to convince them by citing the benefits of engaging in the program. You can’t force them, so you need to try to negotiate.

In many divorce cases, parenting education courses will positively impact parents and children. You should not disregard court orders and comply with the requirements of current legislation to get a chance to deal with marriage termination effects on children as easily as possible and avoid receiving sanctions from the court.