Understanding court-required parent education courses

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Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
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As of February 12, 2024, parents who are part of certain Massachusetts courts involving children must take a 4 hour co-parenting education course. This course is called “Two Families Now.” The goal of the course is to help parents learn how to parent together even when they don't live in the same house.

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When does the court require you to take the course?

Here are the types of cases where parents must take the course:

  • If someone files a complaint for divorce 
    • note: parents don’t have to take the course if they have filed a joint 1A no fault petition for divorce 
  • If someone files a complaint for separate support.
  • If someone files a complaint to establish parentage
  • If someone files a complaint for custody, support, or parenting time.

You are only required to take the course if you have minor children (under the age of 18).

A judge can also order you to take the course in other cases involving minor children.

How will I be notified about the class?

 If you have started the court case (the “plaintiff’), you'll get a notice telling you about the course when you file the case.  You have to include this notice with the paperwork you give to the other parent when you serve them.  The notice includes information about how to sign up for the course.  You must sign up within 30 calendar days of getting notice about the course.

What are more details about the course?

The course is 4 hours long. 

It is online. 

It is available in English and Spanish. 

You can find more information about it in this flyer.

How much does it cost?

The course costs $49 for each parent. If you can't afford the cost, you can ask not to pay it by filing an affidavit of indigency.  
 

What if there has been domestic violence?

This course is not for parents where there has been domestic violence.  If there has been domestic violence, you can ask the court for a waiver so you don’t have to take the course

What if I have a good reason not to take the course?

Either or both parents can ask the court to “waive” the requirement that they take the course.

Reasons to ask for a waiver include:

  • you are not fluent in English or Spanish,
  • you are in prison, 
  • you are not available for some other reason,   
  • You and the other parent have a written agreement on custody and/or parenting time issues and you can file this agreement with the Court,
  • You have already taken and finished the course before, or 
  • There are other reasons why it would be unfair to make you take the course.

If you think you have a good reason not to take the course, you can ask for a waiver. Fill out the “Motion to waive attendance at parent education program.” and file it with the court. You will also need to give a copy of your motion to the other parent.

The court might decide whether to give you a waiver without a hearing. Or, they will let you know if they schedule a hearing about your motion. 

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