Thursday, March 25, 2010

Parenting Classes

Most of our counties now require divorcing parents to take parenting classes.  Thes classes are usually taught in a seminar format that lasts up to eight hours.  During the seminars, the instructors teach the parents about the issues that children usually face in a divorce and how to best manage them.  The class also provides some skills on co-parenting. 

Sometimes a client will express some degree of outrage or at least exasperation at having to take the class.  "Who is this big brother telling me how to raise my kids.  I've been doing it just fine for years now." 

I want to stay with that thought for a moment.

Unless you settle your case, the judge will make a decision about your kids.  While judges prefer not to, they will make custody decisions when called upon to do so.  And when they make custody decisions, judges have to apply some rubric for determining the best interest of the child, the better parent for custody.  You wouldn't want the judge to be arbitrary.  Judges tend to have fairly common standards though some have strong pet peeves.

If you don't settle your case, you are asking big brother to make the decision.  Don't you want to know how the judge sees the world?  Don't you want to know what the judge thinks is normal?  You are far more realistic to expect the judge to rule a consistent way than expect the judge to conform to your particular and perhaps unique view of the world.

Before you go throwing down the gauntlet on custody, you want all the parenting classes you can get.  You want access to the instruction manual. You even want plenty of individualized instruction to ensure that your methods of parenting conform to the norm with which the judge is most comfortable.  You want to be able to speak the judge's language. 

Of course, you do have an option.  You can learn how to prevail or you can tilt at windmills to convince the judge of the error of her ways, and good luck with that.  That choice is competely yours.

Me, I like to prevail.

Michael Manely 

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