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Are Parenting Classes Mandatory in Washington State?

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Washington State Courts impose a mandatory requirement for parents going through the legal system to attend parenting classes for divorce, modification of parenting plans, and parentage actions. Essentially, whenever kids are involved, the court does all it can to encourage civility between parents. They want to ensure that the children are insulated as much as possible from the disharmony that develops between opposing parties before, during, and after legal action.

What is the goal of mandatory parenting classes?

Whenever children are involved, the Courts have a well-established priority and legal mandate. That is to facilitate parenting plans and other actions that are “in the best interest of the child(ren).” The goal of mandatory parenting classes is to help parents develop or improve their parenting skills in ways that promote the common goal of always achieving a plan that protects and ensures the best interest of the child(ren).

Happily married or cohabitating couples usually develop ways of communicating with each other, sharing parental duties, and providing a happy and stable environment for their children. Though they are in fact co-parenting, they seldom think of it that way. However, when the relationship becomes contentious and a couple separates or starts the divorce process, parenting often changes dramatically. Unfortunately, at that point, the focus shifts from what is best for the child(ren), to something more about the relationship between the parents.

What do you learn in mandatory parenting classes?

The Courts’ required parenting classes do two things:

  1. They help parents become more aware and intentional in their co-parenting.
  2. They keep the parents’ focus on what is best for their child(ren).

Parenting is never an easy task. It becomes far more difficult when you are co-parenting with someone who you may be angry or fed-up with. Our Courts regularly witness how destructive anger and hostility can be for the children in these unfortunate situations.

Some parents can be quite manipulative and attempt to use their children as a weapon against the other parent. Some try to alienate the affection of the child towards the other parent by speaking badly of them or trying to obstruct or contaminate the kids’ time with that parent. The goal of the Court is always to eliminate these destructive behaviors and focus on the needs of the children. When parents can learn to be collaborative in their co-parenting, the children will reap the benefits.

How do I attend mandatory parenting classes?

The process of a required parenting class, attending the class, and then confirming attendance of the class with the Court, tends to vary from venue to venue. The Family Court of each county sets up its own rules and procedures. Determine exactly what the requirements are and what you need to do to comply in your county. Most Courts will not finalize a divorce or a modification of a parenting plan until both parents complete the mandatory parenting class. Note that you and your ex do not have to attend these classes together.

Even if a Court does not require you to attend such a class, going is still a good idea. Acquiring the tools to be a better parent to minimize the negative effects of separation and divorce on your children can be invaluable.

Contact an Attorney at Divorce Lawyers for Men now.

The Divorce Lawyers for Men attorneys have years of experience with cases involving child custody and parenting plans. We are ready to fight for you and your children, as well as help you navigate these mandatory parenting classes. Contact our attorneys in Kent today.

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