Many Georgia counties have established what are called parenting seminars for divorcing parents. Georgia family law courts, including Gwinnett County, require divorcing parents to parenting seminars early in the divorce process. Under Georgia law, the superior court in any county can establish a program designed to inform parties about the effects of divorce on minor children of the marriage.
It’s not unusual for many parents to begrudge attending a parenting seminar, as they feel it’s a slight to their parenting capabilities, but this isn’t the intention of these seminars. They are intended to provide valuable resources to aid parents and children with the significant life changes they are experiencing due to the divorce.
As a family law attorney, below are some frequently asked questions about parenting seminars that we hear in our office.
A parenting seminar focuses on the developmental needs of children, especially the care of the child’s emotional health during periods of stress. It is intended to be informative and supportive, providing the necessary resources to help families transition through an emotionally charged time. The course content usually includes:
All parents going through a divorce are required to attend a parenting class in Gwinnett County, and many other Georgia counties. These seminars are not intended to single out “bad” parents, but rather provide alternative methods and tools to help parents and children through a divorce based on what we have seen children, parents and families experience as a result of the divorce process.
The Georgia Superior Court Rules allow each court to mandate seminar attendance for parties who are participating in divorce or other cases with child custody disputes. Most seminars focus on the effect the divorce has on the children and strategies parents can utilize for healthy co-parenting.
Attendance of a parenting seminar is mandatory in almost all Georgia counties including Barrow, Clayton, Forsyth, Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett and Cobb. You should be able to find appropriate classes on the Superior Court website
In order to attend a class outside of the county in which the divorce is being granted, you must obtain permission from the specific judge that is presiding over the case. Prior to Covid-19, most counties required in-person attendance for all Georgia residents, but now allow for online attendance.
Parenting seminars are designed to help families navigate change. They are most often attended by parents who are getting divorced. However, a court may order attendance where parties are involved in separate maintenance, paternity, change of custody, visitation, legitimation, grandparents' rights or any other domestic action, excluding contempt and domestic violence.
No, while you and your spouse may be required to attend a parenting seminar, you do not have to attend together. You may attend the seminar alone and at different times. No couple may be forced to attend together. It is perfectly acceptable to coordinate different seminar days.
Seminars are typically held several times a month and must be completed before divorce the court grants a divorce. The schedule changed significantly during the pandemic closures so be sure to check the website for the latest information. The deadline to complete this requirement is usually 30 days from the standing order and must be completed before the final order is signed by a court.
Parenting seminars in Georgia are usually no longer than four to six hours, depending on your local jurisdiction. The sooner you have a seminar completion certificate, the sooner your divorce proceedings can continue.
If you refuse to attend a parenting seminar, the Court can sanction you for failing to complete the course, and may not grant your divorce. Convincing a court to excuse your attendance is a rigorous procedure that requires filing a motion and showing good cause for the request, which will only be granted if it is in the best interests of the child. We strongly advise all our clients to attend the parenting seminar to ensure the divorce process goes as smoothly as possible, and to demonstrate that you have the best interest of the child as your priority.
Unfortunately, parenting classes are not free. Each parent is required to pay a fee ranging from $30 to $60 per person.
Because divorce can bring about short and long-term detrimental emotional, economic, and social effects to young children, courts have mandated parenting seminars to address these wellbeing concerns. If your divorce case is making slow progress, you may not have fulfilled all the requirements. Courts can delay the entry of a final order if parties getting divorced have not attended a parenting seminar. In this case, it’s advisable to sit down with your family law attorney to double-check you have met all the requirements.
Going through a divorce can be confusing, and it's not unusual to have questions about the family law courts and the legal process. An experienced and compassionate family law attorney can answer your questions and provide proper guidance for you and your family during a stressful time.
Our divorce and family law team is ready to help you understand your rights, aggressively fight for your interests and create a strategy to help protect you and your children throughout your case. Contact Attorney Sharon Jackson today at (678) 436-3636 to schedule a consultation.
Attorney Sharon Jackson LLC
175 Langley Drive, Suite A1
Lawrenceville, GA 30046
Phone: (678) 909-4100
Fax: (678) 281-0482