Co-Parenting Course Mandate: What This Means for Massachusetts Parents

Co-Parenting Course Mandate in Massachusetts 

Massachusetts has reintroduced a mandatory co-parenting course named “Two Families Now”. Probate and Family Court Standing Order 3-2023 “Co-Parenting Education Course for Married and Unmarried Parents” effective November 1, 2023, has been amended and superseded by this Standing Order as of February 12, 2024. This shift gives judges of the Probate and Family Court authority to order parents to attend this course.

Understanding the Change:

Will this change affect you? With the implementation of “Two Families Now,” as of February 12, 2024, every parent facing contested custody issues must undergo this standardized four-hour online course, regardless of marital status. The course is self-paced and can be completed on a computer, tablet, or smart phone. There is a $49.00 fee for taking the course, which may be waived in certain circumstances.

The Purpose of “Two Families Now”:

The “Two Families Now” course was developed by Trifoia. It aims to equip parents with tools for effective communication and conflict resolution, ultimately prioritizing the well-being of children during familial transitions. It also addresses diverse family structures, including LGBTQ+ families, and emphasizes the impact of parental conflict on children. By providing practical strategies and insights, “Two Families Now” seeks to empower parents to navigate challenges and prioritize their children’s well-being.

Legal Perspectives and Concerns:

While many family law attorneys welcome the reintroduction of the course, some highlight the need for exceptions, particularly for survivors of domestic violence. Concerns also arise regarding the one-size-fits-all approach and the potential delay in court proceedings due to course requirements.

Family law attorneys are also advocating for expanding the course to include languages commonly spoken in Greater Boston, such as Portuguese, French Creole, and Vietnamese. While discussions have surfaced, challenges regarding funding and implementation remain unresolved.

Implications for Court Proceedings:

Parents must register for the course within thirty (30) days of service of the complaint and complete it within thirty (30) days of registering. Once completed, the Certificate of Completion must be filed with the Court within 14 days. With this timeline for completion, the co-parenting course’s reintroduction may extend the duration of family court cases by several months. Attorneys anticipate logistical challenges and advocate for streamlined processes to mitigate delays. The mass.gov website has more information about the requirements and procedures for registering for the course.

Conclusion:

The reintroduction of the “Two Families Now” co-parenting course signifies Massachusetts’ commitment to promoting effective co-parenting and prioritizing children’s welfare during familial transitions. While the standardized approach offers consistency, concerns regarding exceptions, linguistic diversity, and procedural delays underscore the need for ongoing refinement and adaptation in family court practices.

If you are involved in a custody proceeding or believe that you may be in the future, contact us to schedule a free consult.

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