Florida law has long required divorcing couples with children to attend a “Parent Education and Family Stabilization” class aimed at educating the parents about the special challenges that await children of those divorcing couples. Parents involved in a paternity case are also required to take the class. In Duval County, this class, Children First in Divorce, has been offered by the Hope Haven Children’s Clinic and Family Center for over 20 years.
Just last month the Chief Judge of the Fourth Judicial Circuit (Duval, Clay, and Nassau Counties) made a few changes to the requirements that parents take this class. First, the class has been renamed to Two Parents, Two Homes. This change, while seemingly simple, will clear up the confusion experienced by many parents involved in a paternity case where they think the Children First in Divorce does not apply to them since the title contains the word “divorce.”
It has long been the practice of the family court judges in Duval county to require that parents take the class in person rather than online. I always specifically tell new clients to take the live class rather than an online class even though the online class is advertised as “accepted by all courts in the State of Florida.” In general, there is an exception allowed where a parent does not live in the area. However, the new rules require that a parent wishing to take a class other than Two Parents, Two Homes, must have prior approval from the judge before enrolling in the class of their choice. Whether a judge will allow an outside class will be determined on a case-by-case basis.