Although a recent study suggests divorce does not, fortunately, affect children too negatively in the long-term, the initial breakdown of the family unit does clearly impact their emotional and social well-being. Since Colorado courts are fully aware parents will need to deal with both the immediate aftermath of a divorce announcement and the subsequent years of co-parenting, most judges will now require a post-divorce parenting class before granting the final decree of dissolution.
These parenting education programs are not mandated by state law, but counties such as Arapahoe, Douglas, El Paso, and Teller are ordering them in all divorce and parental responsibility cases involving minor children. They must be taken by a set deadline (63 days from the date of order in Arapahoe County, for instance), and you will need to show a certificate of completion from an approved class before final orders can be set. Failing to attend one of the classes will naturally delay your divorce, and could also jeopardize your custody agreement.
There are several organizations that offer these classes, but it’s important to ensure the curriculum satisfies the requirements of your Domestic Relations Court””especially considering some judicial districts will not accept online courses. An approved class led by Parenting After Divorce, for example, meets for a single four-hour session that touches on strategies for protecting your children from choosing a side, maintaining a business-like co-parenting relationship, and formulating a detailed parenting plan. This introductory class is available six times a month in English, once a month in Spanish, and costs $65.
Alternatively, some county courts host the parenting classes themselves. In El Paso County, a Children and Families in Transition Seminar (CFIT) moderated by an attorney or mental health professional occurs three times a month and costs $40. Moreover, they offer a free child care service during their Friday seminars (call ahead to reserve a spot: 719.452.5499) and will also waive the registration fee for those receiving assistance from Colorado Legal Services.