Parenting Education Programs: The Basics

In cases involving child custody or visitation, including situations in which someone is seeking a modification to an existing arrangement, the state of Illinois requires parents to complete an authorized parenting education program. The purpose is to foster better relationships between the parents, and between the parents and their children, by providing information and guidance. Another goal of the program is to reduce the necessity for litigation in divorce proceedings.

The two approved parenting education programs in Cook County are Focus on Children and Children in Between Online. Focus on Children is a four-hour in-person class restricted to parents who are court-ordered to receive parenting education. There are three Focus on Children courses, each suited to parents in different situations: a pre-decree course for parents whose divorce is in progress, a post-decree course for parents whose divorces are finalized but who are back in court for related issues and a parenting class for unmarried people who have children together.

The Children in Between Online course can be taken if the divorce case has not yet been filed. It’s usually not a bad idea for parents to be proactive about receiving education concerning their divorce, their relationship with their children and post-divorce life. However, if the court orders mediation or emergency intervention, parents must take the Focus on Children course, even if they’ve already completed Children in Between Online.

If you haven’t yet formally filed for divorce, learning about your options is a smart way to get ahead of the process. If you have questions about the parenting education programs available in the Chicago area, contact a knowledgeable Illinois family law attorney.

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