Mandatory Parent Education Program in Massachusetts

| Oct 7, 2016 | Divorce |

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All parents to a Massachusetts divorce action in which there are minor children must attend an approved Parent Education Program in order to finalize their divorce, unless that requirement is waived by a “demonstrable showing of: chronic and severe violence which negates safe parental communication; language barriers; institutionalization or other unavailability of a party; or where justice otherwise indicates.” 

In addition, a judge, in his or her discretion, may require the parties in an action to establish paternity, complaints for modification or contempt, or in any other case involving parenting time, custody, or support of minor children to attend a Parent Education Program. 

The Parent Education Program fee is $80.00, although that may be reduced to $5.00 if an Affidavit of Indigency and Request for Waiver, Substitution, or State Payment of Fees and Costs is submitted.

Parents must register for the Parent Education Program within thirty (30) days of service of the Complaint for Divorce, and file an Affidavit Confirming Registration at Parent Education Program with the Court once each has registered.

Parents must file with the court their Certificate of Attendance within thirty (30) days of completing the program. 

If a parent is not able to attend an in person Parent Education Program, the party may file, with notice, a “Motion to Permit Completion of Parent Education Program via DVD “. The motion must include the reason the party is alleged to be unable to attend a Parent Education Program in person. Approval to participate in a Parent Education Program through use of the DVD or online program may be granted upon a demonstrable showing of: significant health or financial issues, significant geographic and transportation issues, or other significant barriers to in person participation; or where justice otherwise indicates. If allowed, the party must complete the interactive program and obtain the Certificate of Attendance. Approval for one parent does not automatically apply to the other parent. 

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