Mandatory Divorce Education Classes

When two people start down the path of divorce, there are a lot of issues to consider. None of which are unimportant. It is a process and there are a lot of boxes that must be checked. One of those boxes is a “Mandatory Divorce Education Class”. When the court says mandatory, they mean it.

A court will not allow certain steps in the divorce process to be taken without first taking the class.Because of the nature of the class, it really is essential that it be one of the first steps in the process.

What to expect in the class

The class can be taken online or live at the courthouse. The class usually lasts about one hour. In thecourse, the instructor will talk about such things as:

  • Alternatives to divorce;
  • Resources available from the courts for resolving custody and support issues without filing for divorce;
  • Resources available to improve or strengthen the marriage;
  • The positive and negative consequences of divorce;
  • A discussion of the divorce process;
  • Divorce and its impact on children and family relationships as well as financial responsibilities to the children;

Usually, by the time couples have filed for divorce and are required to take the course, the first few items on the list have already been decided. Nevertheless, the court wants couples to really understand what they are about to do. That’s why the court requires the class early on in the process.

What if I don’t take it early on?

As already stated, the court requires the class to be taken before certain other events take place. This is critical. Keep in mind that a divorce may take quite a bit of time to get from filing to divorce decree. It is not unusual for a contested divorce to take over a year to complete.

In the early stages of the process, however, a party may ask for temporary orders, i.e. custody or support. A motion for temporary orders is a subject big enough for its own blog, but essentially, it does what it says – it provides temporary support or custody orders while the divorce case proceeds down its long and arduous road. It is often critical for a party to receive some sort of support, be it alimony, child support or some form of relief before the divorce decree is issued.

What else is there?

A party may file a motion for temporary orders early on in the process, but a court will not hear your motion unless and until you have taken the divorce education class. Let’s say your opposing party files a motion for temporary orders asking the court to give them full custody of the children and ordering you to pay child support. Assume further that you file a counter-motion for temporary orders and you ask for full custody of the children and child support and alimony. When it comes time to hear the motions, the court informs you that because you have not yet taken the divorce education class, the court will not hear your motion and therefore, none of the things you’ve asked the court for can be granted. That’s an easy win for the other side. The divorce education course is critical.

Divorce can be a nasty and challenging process. Having a good divorce attorney can help you navigate the murky waters of the process.