Why do I have to take a co-parenting class?

The Courts in Missouri typically require every litigant in a custody case to attend a co-parenting class.  The class is approximately two hours long, and the litigant will be provided with a certificate of attendance after it is over, which will need to be filed with the Court.

The central topic of the required co-parenting class will be the effect of conflict on children of divorce/separated parents and the importance of avoiding involving the children in any conflict that you may have with the co-parent.  Some people feel that these topics are common sense and they should not have to attend.  However, in my experience, the class can offer important reminders to people who are so caught up in the conflict themselves that they fail to realize that the children are caught in the middle.

Attendance of the class can impact attempted mediation positively, so, ideally, both litigants will attend the co-parenting class prior to attending mediation. With the lessons of the class fresh on their minds, litigants are often able to come into mediation with the importance of reducing conflict for purposes of their children at the forefront of their minds.  In short, it is a good reminder to put aside the emotional roller coaster of the separation and work towards a resolution in order to reduce the conflict surrounding the children.

The co-parenting class can also serve as a reminder of the importance of both parents continuing to be an active part of the children’s lives.  The separation of parents can be such an emotionally hostile time that parties can forget to separate their own feelings towards the other parent from that of the children’s feelings toward the other parent.

There are, of course, litigants who will not walk away with any new insight from the co-parenting class. Unfortunately, there are simply people in the world who are not open to learning new information and reflecting upon themselves.  In short, they feel that they know everything.  The people who simply walk through the motions of the class in order to get the certificate rather than being open to receiving the information will not walk away with the insight that the class can offer.

When the litigants are open to receiving the information, the required co-parenting class can help reduce the conflict surrounding children and, thereby, reduce the negative impact suffered by children during a divorce/separation.