Utah Code 30-3-11.3: Mandatory Educational Course For Divorcing Parents — Purpose — Curriculum — Exceptions
1) The Judicial Council shall approve and implement a mandatory course for divorcing parents in all judicial districts. The mandatory course is designed to educate and sensitize divorcing parties to their children’s needs both during and after the divorce process.
2) The Judicial Council shall adopt rules to implement and administer this program.
3) (a) As a prerequisite to receiving a divorce decree, both parties are required to attend a mandatory course on their children’s needs after filing a complaint for divorce and receiving a docket number, unless waived under Section 30-3-4. If that requirement is waived, the court may permit the divorce action to proceed.
(b) With the exception of a temporary restraining order pursuant to Rule 65, Utah Rules of Civil Procedure, a party may file, but the court may not hear, a motion for an order related to the divorce until the moving party completes the mandatory educational course for divorcing parents required by this section.
4) The court may require unmarried parents to attend this educational course when those parents are involved in a visitation or custody proceeding before the court.
5) The mandatory course shall instruct both parties:
a) about divorce and its impacts on:
I. their child or children;
II. their family relationship; and
III. their financial responsibilities for their child or children; and
b) that domestic violence has a harmful effect on children and family relationships.
6) The course may be provided through live instruction, video instruction, or an online provider. The online and video options must be formatted as interactive presentations that ensure active participation and learning by the parent.
7) The Administrative Office of the Courts shall administer the course pursuant to Title 63G, Chapter 6a, Utah Procurement Code, through private or public contracts and organize the program in each of Utah’s judicial districts. The contracts shall provide for the recoupment of administrative expenses through the costs charged to individual parties, pursuant to Subsection (9).
8) A certificate of completion constitutes evidence to the court of course completion by the parties.
9) (a) Each party shall pay the costs of the course to the independent contractor providing the course at the time and place of the course. A fee of $8 shall be collected, as part of the course fee paid by each participant, and deposited in the Children’s Legal Defense Account, described in Section 51-9-408. (b) Each party who is unable to pay the costs of the course may attend the course without payment upon a prima facie showing of impecuniosities as evidenced by an affidavit of impecuniosities filed in the district court. In those situations, the independent contractor shall be reimbursed for its costs from the appropriation to the Administrative Office of the Courts for “Mandatory Educational Course for Divorcing Parents Program.” Before a decree of divorce may be entered, the court shall make a final review and determination of impecuniosities and may order the payment of the costs if so determined.
10) Appropriations from the General Fund to the Administrative Office of the Courts for the “Mandatory Educational Course for Divorcing Parents Program” shall be used to pay the costs of an indigent parent who makes a showing as provided in Subsection (9)(b).
11) The Administrative Office of the Courts shall adopt a program to evaluate the effectiveness of the mandatory educational course. Progress reports shall be provided if requested by the Judiciary Interim Committee.
What is Parent Education and why do some States Require It?
Divorce is not easy on the parents or the children. Families have increasingly relied on the courts to resolve divorce issues and problems including child custody, visitation, child support, paternity, emergency protective orders, and restraining orders. As a result, courts have found that parental conflict related to divorce is a societal concern because children suffer potential short-term and long-term detrimental economic, emotional, and educational effects during times of family transition due to divorce. To address this concern, many courts have decided to mandate parent education classes.
What States Require Parent Education Classes?
Seventeen states require all divorcing parents, regardless if the divorce is uncontested, to attend some form of parent education class:
• New Hampshire
• New Jersey
• West Virginia
Idaho, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Virginia require all parents filing a contested divorce to attend a parent education class. The rest of the states either leave it up to the judge’s discretion or only mandate parent education classes in certain counties or judicial districts.
Topics covered in parent education classes include:
• The issues and procedures for resolving time-sharing and child support disputes.
• The emotional experiences and problems of divorcing adults.
• The family problems and the emotional concerns and needs of the children.
• Family relationships and family dynamics.
• Financial responsibilities to a child or children.
• Issues regarding spousal or child abuse and neglect.
• Skill-based relationship education that may be generalized to parenting, workplace, school, neighborhood, and civic relationships.
• The availability of community services and resources.
Benefits of Parent Education
• Higher self-esteem
• Higher grades
• Fewer behavior problems
• Reduced drug and alcohol use
• Reduced early sexual activity
The Parenting after Separation and Divorce program aims to:
• provide for the best interest of the child or children in family disputes;
• assist in increasing people’s understanding of the issues by providing information about the available options for resolution, legal issues, child support, custody and parenting;
• provide information that assists in promoting consensual conflict resolution methods that lead to long-lasting resolution of issues; and
• reduce the number of family matters that return to the court for adjudication or variation.
The program is carried out over two three-hour sessions or one six-hour session. The following topics are covered:
• Stages of Separation/Divorce
• Options for Resolving Disputes
• Children’s Reactions to Divorce/Separation
• Children’s Developmental Stages
• How to Make Family Changes Easier on the Children
• Pre and Post Separation Relationships
• New Relationships
These sessions are facilitated by social workers, mediators and or educators.
Utah Divorce Lawyer
In any family law proceeding (except for inter-jurisdictional support orders) in which custody, access or child support is an issue, the parents must take part in the Parenting after Separation and Divorce program. Parties are not required to attend the program if:
• they file a certificate of attendance with the court proving that they have attended the Parenting after Separation and Divorce program or equivalent program within the last two years;
• they obtain an order from the court exempting them from attendance; or
• all the parties to the proceeding certify in writing that a written agreement has been entered into settling all issues respecting custody, access and child support.
How to Apply
The parent initiating the action must:
• attend the Parenting after Separation and Divorce program and file a certificate of attendance with the court before taking any further step in the proceeding; and
• serve the respondent (other parent) with the Notice to Attend the Parenting After Separation and Divorce program with the document commencing the family law proceeding.
Benefits for your children
Through your co-parenting partnership, your kids should recognize that they are more important than the conflict that ended your marriage and understand that your love for them will prevail despite changing circumstances. Kids whose divorced parents have a cooperative relationship:
• Feel secure: When confident of the love of both parents, kids adjust more quickly and easily to divorce and new living situations, and have better self-esteem.
• Benefit from consistency: Co-parenting fosters similar rules, discipline, and rewards between households, so children know what to expect, and what’s expected of them.
• Better understand problem solving: Children who see their parents continuing to work together are more likely to learn how to effectively and peacefully solve problems themselves.
• Have a healthy example to follow: By cooperating with the other parent, you are establishing a life pattern your children can carry into the future to build and maintain stronger relationships.
• Are mentally and emotionally healthier: Children exposed to conflict between co-parents are more likely to develop issues such as depression, anxiety, or ADHD.
Improve Communication with Your Co-Parent
Peaceful, consistent, and purposeful communication with your ex is essential to the success of co-parenting even though it may seem absolutely impossible. It all begins with your mindset. Think about communication with your ex as having the highest purpose, your child’s well-being. Before having contact with your ex, ask yourself how your actions will affect your child, and resolve to conduct yourself with dignity. Make your child the focal point of every discussion you have with your ex-partner. Remember that it isn’t always necessary to meet your ex in person speaking over the phone or exchanging texts or emails is fine for the majority of conversations. The goal is to establish conflict-free communication, so see which type of contact works best for you.
Co-parenting communication methods
However you choose to have contact, the following methods can help you initiate and maintain effective communication:
• Set a business-like tone: Approach the relationship with your ex as a business partnership where your “business” is your children’s well-being. Speak or write to your ex as you would a colleague with cordiality, respect, and neutrality. Relax and talk slowly.
• Make requests: Instead of making statements, which can be misinterpreted as demands, try framing as much as you can as a request. Requests can begin with, “Would you be willing to…?” or “Can we try…?”
• Listen: Communicating with maturity starts with listening. Even if you end up disagreeing with the other parent, you should at least be able to convey to your ex that you’ve understood their point of view. And listening does not signify approval, so you won’t lose anything by allowing your ex to voice his or her opinions.
• Show restraint: Keep in mind that communicating with one another is going to be necessary for the length of your children’s entire childhood if not longer. You can train yourself to not overreact to your ex, and over time you can become numb to the buttons they try to push.
• Commit to meeting/talking consistently: Though it may be extremely difficult in the early stages, frequent communication with your ex will convey the message to your children that you and your co-parent are a united front.
• Keep conversations kid-focused: Never let a discussion with your ex-partner digress into a conversation about your needs or their needs; it should always be about your child’s needs only.
• Quickly relieve stress in the moment: It may seem impossible to stay calm when dealing with a difficult ex-spouse who’s hurt you in the past or has a real knack for pushing your buttons. But by practicing quick stress relief techniques, you can learn to stay in control when the pressure builds.
Terms Used In Utah Code 30-3-11.3
• Affidavit: A written statement of facts confirmed by the oath of the party making it, before a notary or officer having authority to administer oaths.
• Appropriation: The provision of funds, through an annual appropriations act or a permanent law, for federal agencies to make payments out of the Treasury for specified purposes. The formal federal spending process consists of sequential steps authorization
• Complaint: A written statement by the plaintiff stating the wrongs allegedly committed by the defendant.
• Docket: A log containing brief entries of court proceedings.
• Evidence: Information presented in testimony or in documents that is used to persuade the fact finder (judge or jury) to decide the case for one side or the other.
• Process: means a write or summons issued in the course of a judicial proceeding.
• Temporary restraining order: Prohibits a person from an action that is likely to cause irreparable harm. This differs from an injunction in that it may be granted immediately, without notice to the opposing party, and without a hearing. It is intended to last only until a hearing can be held.
When you need a divorce attorney, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506