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Mandatory co-parenting classes may be spreading

Learning how to co-parent your children with your ex after a divorce is in many ways like learning how to be a parent all over again -- particularly for fathers who may find themselves spending more time alone with their kids than they did during the marriage. If you and your ex have a strained relationship after you've gone your separate ways, parenting can be even more challenging.

Children are the ones who often pay the price when their divorced parents aren't able to work together to be the best parents they can. Both physical and mental health issues, including anxiety, depression and substance abuse, increase in children of divorce.

Some states, including Massachusetts and Connecticut, mandate that divorced couples take co-parenting classes. Now another New England state may be following suit, if a Rhode Island man is successful in his efforts.

The Providence resident says he hopes to speak before the state's General Assembly next month. He'd like them to form a commission that would study the advantages of requiring divorced parents with kids under 18 to participate in these classes. He's gotten the support of a number of town managers, mayors and town council presidents.

That state has some opportunities for parents who choose on their own to have counseling. However, there aren't many. He's hoping that private and public entities can work together to change that. He says he wants the state to provide a "robust marketplace of offerings to help divorced parents co-parent, communicate and collaborate for the best interest of their children."

Ideally, he'd like the classes to be mandatory. He says he knows divorced parents in states like Massachusetts where the classes are mandated "who were less-than-enthusiastic about taking the class, but they came out of it glad that they did."

Of course, no class can guarantee that divorced couples will be able to work through their residual issues to become good co-parents. As with most things, you get out of it what you put into it. However, discussing issues with an unbiased professional can be helpful and is certainly worth putting in the effort for the sake of your kids.

Source: The East Greenwich Pendulum, "Co-parenting classes could help divorcing couples," Gabriel Falletta, Dec. 03, 2016

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