by Mandy Demers, Paralegal
In any divorce case involving minor children, the Court requires the parties to attend a Parent Information Program pursuant to A.R.S. 25-352. At the start of a divorce, many people are angry or hurt; some don't want to talk to or look at the other parent or may try to deliberately hurt the other parent through the children. Often, the children are hurt unintentionally when a parent who does not wish to communicate with the other parent attempts to pass information to the other parent through the child. This places the child in the middle of the dispute and is harmful to the child's psychological and emotional health. The Parent Information Program is one way the Court tries to discourage this practice. The Parent Information Program is an educational program designed to help parents understand that they are not the only ones affected by the divorce, and how to help the children transition during this stage in their lives. Unfortunately, many people choose to continue with their unhealthy behavior or, in some instances, they do not realize that they are required to take the class.
Because the Parent Information Program is a crucial part of the case, the judges take this matter seriously and may take action to enforce the Order to Attend, including refusing to enter a Consent Decree of Dissolution until the Certificate of Completion has been filed, finding a parent in contempt of court for not taking the class, or ordering that the person who has not completed the class will be barred from any future filings on the issues of decision-making and parenting time until that parent takes the class. Further, the Court may also require that a parent take the class more than once (e.g. as a "refresher") or that one or both parents attend a "high conflict" version of the class.
It is important to remember that if you have been served with a Petition for Dissolution, you must pay attention to all the documents served to ensure that you are abiding by all orders. If you do not understand the documents you were served, seek the help of an Arizona Family Lawyer to ensure you are in compliance. To discuss your legal decision-making or parenting time matter, please contact our office to schedule a free initial consultation.