If you are planning to go through the process of divorce in Tennessee and you have minor children of the marriage, there are several requirements that must be fulfilled before the court will grant a divorce. One of those requirements is that you attend a parenting class. To help prepare you for the divorce process and make sure you understand what is required of you, a Murfreesboro divorce lawyer at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby explains the parenting class requirement for a Tennessee divorce.
A Parenting Plan Must Be Approved by the Court in a Tennessee Divorce
Tennessee law requires a Parenting Plan to be submitted and approved by the court in a divorce proceeding that involves minor children. The overall goal of the Parenting Plan requirement is to provide the framework for parents to effectively co-parent post-divorce and to provide assistance with conflict resolution if a dispute arises between the parents after the divorce is finalized. As part of the Parenting Plan law, Tennessee requires parents to attend a “parent education seminar.”
The Tennessee Parent Educational Seminar Law
The parent education seminar requirement can be found in Tennessee Code § 36-6-408 which states, in pertinent part, as follows:
In an action where a permanent parenting plan is or will be entered, each parent shall attend a parent educational seminar as soon as possible after the filing of the complaint. The seminar may be divided into sessions, which in the aggregate must not be less than four (4) hours in duration, and the minor children must be excluded from attending the seminar. The seminar must be educational in nature and not designed for individual therapy. The seminar must educate parents concerning how to protect and enhance the child’s emotional development and inform the parents regarding the legal process. The seminar must include:
At least one (1) thirty-minute video on adverse childhood experiences created:
By the department of children’s services in conjunction with the Tennessee commission on children and youth; or
As part of the Building Strong Brains Tennessee public awareness campaign; and
A discussion of alternative dispute resolution, marriage counseling, the judicial process, and common perpetrator attitudes and conduct involving domestic violence.
What Is Taught in a Parenting Educational Seminar?
A parenting education seminar is not intended to be a personal therapy session for the parents. Instead, it is aimed at providing parents with information that can help them constructively parent their children and deal with each other during and/or after the divorce. The law requires that, at a minimum, a parenting education seminar “educate parents concerning how to protect and enhance the child’s emotional development and informing the parents regarding the legal process. The seminar shall also include a discussion of alternative dispute resolution, marriage counseling, the judicial process, and common perpetrator attitudes and conduct involving domestic violence.”
While a seminar must be a minimum of four hours long and cover the previously mentioned topics, courts can require a seminar to be longer and/or cover additional information. The local court rules for Rutherford County simply require that parents “attend parenting classes in accordance with the orders of the Court.” As such, the court will dictate the length of your parenting class and what topics must be covered. Your divorce attorney can provide you with a list of seminar providers that have been approved by the court.
How Much Does the Parenting Class Cost?
Individual providers set the cost charged for attending the required class(es), making it a good idea to shop around before choosing a class. If you are unable to afford the cost of the class, talk to your divorce attorney. It may be possible to get the fee waived by the court.
Contact a Murfreesboro Divorce Lawyer
If you have additional questions about the parenting class requirement in a Tennessee divorce, consult with an experienced Murfreesboro divorce lawyer as soon as possible. Contact the team at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby as soon as possible by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.
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