Parent Education Program

In every Arizona case in which a party has asked the court to determine custody and specific parenting time of a child, both parties must complete the Superior Court’s approved Parent Education Program, also known as the Parent Information Program. It doesn’t matter whether the child was adopted or the natural offspring of the parent, the class is scheduled whenever there is an unemancipated minor child involved.

A Little Background

The program is designed to help parents understand the impact that their separation, divorce, or paternity case might have on the emotional well-being of the child. Understand that the child’s life will be profoundly affected by the court proceedings which will restructure his or her family.

Although the class is required in all cases in which the court is asked to determine matters of child custody, visitation, and child support, the court has discretion to order parental participation in the program in other cases, too, including a modification or enforcement of child support, custody or visitation.

This parent education class is three hours long and must be completed within 45 days of the initial court filing. The current registration fee is $50 per person — the benefits of program participation are well worth this expense. When the participant has completed the course, he or she is issued an official Certificate of Completion. The original certificate must be filed with the court before any final orders over custody and parenting time will be issued.

The course is scheduled with court-approved providers available through each county. In Maricopa County, an online Parent Information Course is also available at the same fee. The online course is there for parents who are residing outside the county or outside the state, who are in a domestic violence shelter, who are disabled, or who are in jail or prison. Furthermore, the judge could order that a parent complete the online course specifically.

About the Parent Information Course

Here is a list of some family concepts covered in the three-hour parent education class:

  • A child’s adjustment to a changed family.
  • How divorce or separation emotionally affects a child.
  • How parental conflict and violence affects a child.
  • Importance of positive communication.
  • Improved co-parenting techniques.
  • Parental responsibility.
  • Recognizing the warning signs of a child in distress.
  • Parental behaviors.
  • Responses and reactions to court proceedings.
  • Emotional stages of separation and divorce.

Reason for Attendance

You may be wondering why you need to attend a parent education class at all. The reason is fairly simple, the classes really help and that’s been established statistically. There isn’t any experience like a divorce or separation, and the process affects everyone in the family. Statistics bear out that parents who attend the classes are more capable of cooperating for their child’s benefit. The classes also help minimize returns to court to resolve future parenting disputes.

Before you go, here are a few tips for mothers and fathers who are going through a divorce or separation:

  • Make sure to listen carefully to your child’s language and “hear” clues to the child’s emotional state in those words.
  • Make sure your child understands that he or she is not to blame for the parents’ breakup.
  • Make sure your child understands that he or she is not being divorced from the parents.
  • Make sure to comfort your child when he or she needs emotional support. Children need assurances that they are loved and will be taken care of.
  • Make sure that disagreeable conversations with your ex occur out of sight and hearing of your child.
  • Make sure that you are not so distracted with your family law case that you forget to praise your child for good works.
  • Make sure that you and your child continue to have good times together. Life goes on, and fun-filled afternoons can make a world of difference in relieving stress for everyone.

Arizona statutory authority for the Parent Information Program

A.R.S. § 25-351: Domestic Relations Education; Plan; Administration

Here are links to more information about Arizona’s Parent Education Programs: