CAN A TEXAS COURT ORDER ME TO TAKE A PARENTING CLASS?
The Texas Family Code has a provision related to taking a Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course. While the provision does not require the taking of one of these courses, some family law courts in Collin County, Dallas County, Denton County, and Tarrant County do require the completion of one of these courses.
These courses can be ordered in a cases affecting the parent-child relationship, including divorce, an action to modify an order in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship providing for possession of or access to a child, the court may order the parties to the suit to attend a parent education and family stabilization course if the court determines that the order is in the best interest of the child.
These courses ordered are typically four hours long but can be as long as 12 hours in length. They are designed to educate parents to the consequences of divorce or custody battles on children.
WHAT MUST BE COVERED IN A COURT ORDERED PARENTING CLASS IN TEXAS?
Texas Family Code Section 105.009 says the course must cover following issues:
- the emotional effects of divorce on parents;
- the emotional and behavioral reactions to divorce by young children and adolescents;
- parenting issues relating to the concerns and needs of children at different development stages;
- stress indicators in young children and adolescents;
- conflict management;
- family stabilization through development of a coparenting relationship;
- the financial responsibilities of parenting;
- family violence, spousal abuse, and child abuse and neglect; and
- the availability of community services and resources.
DO I HAVE TO TAKE THE CLASS WITH THE OTHER PARENT?
The parties to the suit may not be required to attend the course together.
The court, on its own motion or the motion of either party, may prohibit the parties from taking the course together if there is a history of family violence in the marriage.
WHO IS ALLOWED TO OFFER THE PARENTING CLASS?
- a mental health professional who has at least a master’s degree with a background in family therapy or parent education; or
- a religious practitioner who performs counseling consistent with the laws of this state or another person designated as a program counselor by a church or religious institution if the litigant so chooses.
CAN MY SPOUSE USE INFORMATION THAT I DISCLOSE IN THE CLASS AGAINST ME?
No, information obtained in a course or a statement made by a participant to a suit during a course may not be considered in the adjudication of the suit or in any subsequent legal proceeding.
Any report that results from participation in the course may not become a record in the suit unless the parties stipulate to the record in writing.
WHAT IF I DO NOT TAKE THE CLASS?
Under the Texas Family Code a “court may take appropriate action with regard to a party who fails to attend or complete a course ordered by the court under this section, including holding the party in contempt of court, striking pleadings, or invoking any sanction provided by Rule 215, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.
The failure or refusal by a party to attend or complete a course required by this section may not delay the court from rendering a judgment in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship.”
What if I already took the Class?
Depending on the Court if you have taken the class in the last 6-12 months you may not be required to take it again.
DO I HAVE TO BE PHYSICALLY PRESENT TO TAKE THE CLASS?
Although the judge can ultimately dictate, under the Texas Family Code the following methods of instruction are acceptable:
- personal instruction;
- videotape instruction;
- instruction through an electronic medium; or
- a combination of those methods.
In reality it depends on the judge. That is why I have created the below table on what different Family Law Courts will accept.
WHAT DOES A PARENTING CLASS COST?
Prices range from $25-$70.
DO NOT WAIT TO TAKE THE CLASS
If you are required to take the class do not wait to the last moment to take the class or the judge will not let us continue.