Point 2: Twelve is better than four. The four hour classes meet for one session. They briefly touch on the required topics and do little to help you navigate the issues that arise with kids involved in divorce. This truly can feel like (and be) a waste of your time. The twelve hour courses in Knoxville meet for four sessions, once a week. You will have time to hear other parents’ stories and share your own. With more time to talk to each other you will learn what to expect as your kids age, meet people with similar challenges in their life, learn from each other, and have access to a group of people who by simply showing up at the same time and same place will support you as a parent when you need it most. I think your kids are worth 8 more hours of your time – don’t you?
Point 3: Take your class ASAP. Your kids are already suffering because of your divorce. In fact long before you decided to get divorced they were affected. Dysfunction in a marriage – no matter how well you thought you could hide it – causes dysfunction in a family. The rules on when you must complete your class vary by judge. It is possible to get a final divorce decree without having yet completed the class – but why on earth would you wait?! The class will help you develop a better parenting plan. Many couples learn communication skills and can then talk to each other more appropriately – this can result in a smoother divorce process. A smoother divorce is less contentious, less time consuming, less stressful, and usually less expensive. Why would you forgo those benefits by putting off the class until after the divorce?
If you’ve read this far I will now raise two additional points: 4) Couples should consider taking the class from the same provider, 5) the quality between providers varies.
Point 4: Use the same provider. By taking the same course (though on different nights, you will not attend together) couples are more likely to be on the same page. This can only help prevent future conflict.
Point 5: Quality varies. I have sat in on a number of classes and talked to many parents. Sometimes providers give incorrect legal information or make offensive remarks. While all providers have had their curriculum approved, clearly there are differences in their ability to teach or the approach they take when covering the same topics. There are two providers I recommend, they are Dove Services/Lifebridge and Steps Co-Parenting Divorce Education. You will find information about them on the “For Parents” page of this site. (I have not yet visited the classes at the YWCA and have not heard anything particular, good or bad, about that provider.)
So, while having to attend a class might seem like just another hassle to deal with during this stressful time in your life, it is arguably one of the most important things you can do to achieve a better divorce.