Updated: Jan 29
By Larry Chamberlin & Jaime Culotta, 26 May 2020
Divorce and Custody cases are one of the most stressful and emotional situations that can play out in the Courtroom. More often than not, parents are so blinded by the pain and anger of the love lost between them, that they forget the most important thing: that the other person must remain a co-parent fully involved with their children. The Court system, in an attempt to remedy this issue, requires parenting classes in all Divorce and Custody cases in Harris County. This article will discuss the importance of co-parenting and the role of parenting classes in providing the support needed for parents to do so effectively.
Hollywood does not portray divorce or child custody battles in a flattering light. Fathers are often excluded from their child’s lives following divorce as punishment for transgressions, children often blame one parent for the breakdown of the family unit, and usually the relationship between the parents is nothing short of volatile. Unfortunately, for once Hollywood seems to have gotten it correct, for these are often the scenarios we face in many of our cases. The choices made by parents following a divorce or custody battle really should be made with the children’s best interests in mind. No matter which way you spin it, having both parents play an active role in their lives is in the children’s best interests. For example, studies have shown that children without a father figure engaged in the children’s lives are much more likely to have significant problems with the police in their teenage years.
Putting aside your emotions toward your child’s other parent is no small thing. After all, parents are only human, you have feelings and emotions that stem from the intimate relationship between you and the other parent, but it is important that those emotions be recognized and dealt with in a non-destructive manner. Parenting classes required by the Court are fairly basic but are designed to help parents navigate their new situation and work together to provide the best environment for their children. By pointing out simple techniques for communication and decision making regarding the best interests of the children. These classes touch on exchanging information regarding the children in an accurate and timely manner as well as providing the other parent with any information that you should expect to receive if the situation was reversed. When parents fail to communicate in a healthy and respectful manner, they are not acting in the children’s best interest, but rather satisfying a need to exhibit control or power over the other in an attempt to settle old wounds. The practice of revenge amounts to using the child as a weapon and cannot contribute to the happiness and well being of your children. It not only must be avoided at all costs but can lead to the withdrawal of your attorney who will not want to be a part of such cruelty.
Basic parenting classes are provided through a variety of means, including in-person classes that can be taken together and online classes to be taken separately. More advanced classes are available from organizations such as Depelchin. I cannot understate the benefit of taking a parenting class together, as it serves as an ice breaker for co-parenting and helps borderline parties become aware of what is acceptable in a successful co-parenting relationship. Online classes are beneficial, as parents often have busy schedules and online classes allow them to complete the required courses prior to an impending court date. I urge parents not to focus on the Court’s requirement of such classes, but rather on the benefit it will have to their children and ultimately themselves if the techniques learned are actually applied. For more information regarding in-person and online parenting classes, please visit the Legal Resources page of our website.
Sometimes it happens that the techniques taught in the parenting classes are not working, simply because your co-parent refuses to cooperate. The first step is not allowing them to get under your skin or push your buttons. Our article “Anger and Button Pushing” provides a detailed look at how these situations arise and how to avoid them.
© 26 May 2020 Larry Chamberlin, Chamberlin Law & Mediation