By Jedidiah McKeehan
When I am representing someone in a divorce case in which the parties have minor children, one of the things I must discuss with them is the requirement that they must attend a parenting class prior to getting divorced.
While most people see this as more of a hassle than anything else, some people get very worked up about this and say things like, “I know how to raise my own children, I do not need to attend any class to teach me how to parent!”
I respond to these people by telling them to first, take a deep breath, and that second, they really have no choice because there is a statute that requires this.
Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-6-408 states that each parent has to attend a parent educational seminar (commonly called a parenting class) when they are getting divorced and they have children under the age of 18.
The statute specifically says, “the seminar shall educate parents concerning how to protect and enhance the child’s emotional development and informing the parents regarding the legal process. The seminar shall also include a discussion of alternative dispute resolution, marriage counseling, the judicial process, and common perpetrator attitudes and conduct involving domestic violence. The program may be divided into sessions, which the aggregate shall not be less than four (4) hours in duration. The seminar shall be education in nature and not designed for physical therapy.”
The short version is, you have to attend a four hour, in person (not online), parenting class. Once you complete the class you will receive a certificate of completion and the certificate has to be filed with the court so the judge knows that you have completed this requirement.
Occasionally I will discuss with my clients whether the parenting class was helpful or not. Some people say they learned some helpful things, some people say the class was a total waste of time. For better or worse, the law requires that the class be attended.
Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties. He works in many areas, including divorce, custody, criminal, personal injury, landlord-tenant, and estate planning. Visit attorney-knoxville.com for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.