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,
many of the
family law courts in Harris County and Montgomery County Texas 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.
What must be covered in a court ordered parenting class in Texas?
Pursuant to Texas Family Code Section 105.009, the course must cover following issues:
- the emotional effects of divorce on parents;
- the emotional and behavioral reactions to divorce by young children and
- parenting issues relating to the concerns and needs of children at different
- 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.
In Harris County, Texas Local Rule 12 states that:
“Except for good cause shown, in all divorces joined with
suits affecting the parent-child relationship, the court shall require parents to attend an educational program for
divorcing parents. In its discretion, the court may also refer parents
enforcement litigation, or a child involved in any type of
custody litigation, to an education course or for counseling.
In protective order cases authorized by Chapter 85, Tex. Fam. Code. the
court may refer a party to a batterers’ treatment program.”
In Montgomery County, Texas Local Rule 4.6 states:
“Referral shall be made in
suits affecting the parent-child relationship requiring the parents’ attendance at an educational program for divorcing
parents, except for good cause shown. In the discretion of the court,
such a referral may also be made for parents involved in modification
or enforcement litigation.
Counseling may also be ordered in appropriate cases as authorized by the
Family Code, including referral to a family violence program pursuant
to a protective order under Chapter 71 of the Family Code.”
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?
No necessarily under the Texas Family Code the following methods of instruction
- 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. I have had more than one client show up to prove up there
divorce or custody case and the judge will not let us continue because
the class has not been completed.
That is why I always discuss the parenting class requirement on our first
consult and provide my clients with a list of places where they can complete
What do I do with my Parenting Class Certificate?
You will give your certificate to your Lawyer as soon as possible so that
it can be filed with the court.
If you are representing yourself it is your responsibility to file it with
Harris County, Texas Family Law Court Parenting Class Requirements
Montgomery County, Texas Family Law Court Parenting Class Requirements
List of Places offering Parenting Classes
- All Parents who are parties in Divorce with Suit Affecting Parent-Child
Relationship (SAPCR) or motions to modify custody MUST attend a course
in a Parent Education Program
- This Program is not about how to parent, but about what you and your child
will experience during a divorce/custody case
- Parents gain the most benefit when they attend early in the case
- It is recommended that you and the other parent attend at separate times,
- Some programs waive or reduce fees based on your financial need
If you want to know more about what you can do,
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“16 Steps to Help You Plan & Prepare for Your Texas Divorce”
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