Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course for Texas Divorces

In 2005, the Texas Legislature added a provision relating to the taking of a Parent Education and Family Stabilization course. See Texas Family Code Section 105.009. Although the courses are not mandatory unless ordered by the Court (although some counties now have local rules requiring that the parties take the course), many people believe that these courses are very productive and help people to focus their attention on what is truly best for their children. The Austin / Travis County Courts have not yet required the course. Of the clients that we have had take these courses, many say that the courses are helpful and report a positive experience. The courses are usually between four and twelve hours in length and are "designed to educate and assist parents with regard to the consequeof divorce on parents and children."

Pusuant to Texas statute, the course must include information on the following issues:

(1) the emotional effects of divorce on parents;
(2) the emotional and behavioral reactions to divorce by young children and adolescents;
(3) parenting issues relating to the concerns and needs of children at different development stages;
(4) stress indicators in young children and adolescents;
(5) conflict management;
(6) family stabilization through development of a coparenting relationship;
(7) the financial responsibilities of parenting;
(8) family violence, spousal abuse, and child abuse and neglect; and
(9) the availability of community services and resources.

When one of the parties to a contested custody case is particularly difficult or is not doing what is best for the children, one option is to request that the Court order that party to take the course. You should be prepared for the likelihood that the Court will simply order both of the parties to take the course, when one party requests. If you have more questions about the Parent Education and Family Stabilization Court you should seek the advise of an experienced family law attorney.