The most complicated matters that family courts must deal with usually involve couples with children. The courts must look after the best interests of the children, and the parents may or may not agree on what those are, so these are issues that can become hotly contested. In order to help mitigate the potential complications that may occur in procedure, as well as limit damage done to the kids, many counties, including Forsyth, require parents to attend parenting seminars in such cases.
According to internal operating procedures for Forsyth County, any parties engaged in domestic relation causes of actions which involve children under 18 must attend and complete a parenting seminar within 31 days of the service of the complaint on the defendant in the lawsuit. This covers not just divorces, but also change in custody requests, legitimation, child support and visitation cases. When completed, a certificate of attendance at such a course if good for three years. Further, non-pre-approved courses can be substituted if they meet the court’s minimum requirements for such courses.
What are the minimum requirements for a parental seminar? The parents attending must be learning about the developmental needs children have, with a focus on how to safeguard emotional well-being during times of high stress. There are certain topics that must be covered, including: grief and coping skills; the financial obligations of parents; the developmental stages children go through; how children both generally and specifically might react to the parents’ split; how divorces affect families and the requirements of co-parenting while separated; and the use of mediation to resolve issues in the case. The course must last for four hours of instructor contact, and offer certification of attendance.
Some parents may not like the idea of someone telling them how to handle their children, but it may be a good idea to remember that these courses are about helping the kids and not taking away parental responsibility. They are also mandated, so parents who want child custody should get used to the idea if they do not want to be held in contempt.