What is a Parenting Course?

In a Texas divorce or child custody case, Section 105.009 of the Texas Family Code authorizes a family court judge to order the parties to attend a Parent Education and Stabilization Course.  The court can enter such an order either in an original proceeding or in a motion to modify an existing custody order if the Court finds it to be in the best interest of the child.

Additionally, several Houston-area family courts including Fort Bend County, Harris County and Montgomery County have standing orders in place pertaining to whether attending a parenting course is required.  These standing orders pertain to whether parties may take an online class or whether they must attend a parenting class in person.

The standing orders also govern whether parties must attend the class together, as well as when the parenting class must be completed and what providers of the parenting course will be accepted by the Court.  If there is a history of family violence between the parties, the Court may prohibit the parties from taking the parenting class together.  A parenting course must be at least four hours long and cannot exceed twelve hours.

The parenting course must be designed to educate and assist parents regarding the consequences of divorce and child custody disputes on parents and children.  The course must include information on the following issues:

(1)    the emotional effects of divorce on parents;

(2)    the emotional and behavioral reactions to divorce by young children and adolescents;

(3)    parenting issues relating to the concerns and needs of children at different development stages;

(4)    stress indicators in young children and adolescents;

(5)    conflict management;

(6)    family stabilization through development of a co-parenting  relationship;

(7)    the financial responsibilities of parenting;

(8)    family violence, spousal abuse, and child abuse and neglect; and

(9)    the availability of community services and resources.

At the completion of the parenting class, a certificate is issued to the party participating in the course.  A party may be required to file the certificate of completion with the Court.

Houston-area family law courts have wide discretion to take action against a party who fails to attend or complete a court-ordered parenting course including: contempt of court; striking a party’s pleadings; and ordering that no visitation occur until the course is completed or sanctions under Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 215.

To discuss parenting classes or other issues, contact a child custody lawyer  in Houston for assistance at 713-221-9088.

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