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 adolescents;
- parenting issues relating to the concerns and needs of children at different development stages;
- 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 involved in modification or 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 are acceptable:
- 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 the class.
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 the Court.
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, not together
- Some programs waive or reduce fees based on your financial need
If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “16 Steps to Help You Plan & Prepare for Your Texas Divorce”
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Houston, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our divorce lawyers in Houston TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.