Attorneys and Judges

It is the public policy of this state to assure that each minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents separate or the marriage has been dissolved, and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities, and joys, of childrearing.

61.13(2)(b)1. Florida Statutes

Parents who are separating or divorcing are more likely to receive maximum benefit from a program if they attend such program at the earliest stages of their dispute, before extensive litigation occurs and adversarial positions are assumed or intensified.

s. 61.21(1)(d) Florida Statutes

All parties to a dissolution of marriage proceeding with minor children or a paternity action that involves issues of parental responsibility shall be required to complete the Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course prior to the entry by the court of a final judgment. The court may excuse a party from attending the parenting course, or from completing the course within the required time, for good cause.

s. 61.21(4) Florida Statutes

All parties required to complete a parenting course under this section shall begin the course as expeditiously as possible. For dissolution of marriage actions, unless excused by the court pursuant to subsection (4), the petitioner must complete the course within 45 days after the filing of the petition, and all other parties must complete the course within 45 days after service of the petition.

s. 61.21(4) Florida Statutes

In most cases, courtrooms should be a last resort for resolving family disputes. The problems of children after divorce and separation are generally exacerbated by resort to the courtroom; they are better addressed by informed parents. Court decrees cannot create quality parenting — only parents themselves can.

Salem, P.; Schepard, A.; Schlissel, S.W.
Parent education as a distinct field of practice.
Family and Conciliation Courts Review (1996) 34:9-22.


In 1998, the Florida Legislature recognized the value of well-informed parents by strengthening the parent education requirement in Section 61.21 Florida Statutes. Effective January 1, 1999, the "may" became a "shall", requiring all divorcing parents with children under the age of 18 to attend a course like A Positive Divorce Resolution, generically labeled the Parent Education & Family Stabilization Course.

The benefits of parent education are greater when parents take a course as early as possible in the process. Those benefits include:

  • reducing parental conflict

  • increasing family communication

  • facilitating divorce adjustment

  • enhancing parenting skills

  • making mediation more effective

  • creating safety for children

  • increasing parents' awareness of effects of divorce and conflict on children

  • keeping children out of the middle

  • reducing delinquency

  • encouraging parents to maintain contact with children

  • helping parents and children through stages of loss and grief

  • reducing stress for parents and children

  • reducing rates of return to court

  • increasing settlement rates in mediation

These benefits have the combined effect of reducing the workload of judges, attorneys, mediators, guardians ad litem and other court personnel.

Glenna O. Auxier


Robert J. Perchalski, Ph.D.
Curriculum Coordinator

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