Recently, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has rendered a decision mandating
the education of parents about children’s emotional needs in order
to better understand the effects that a
divorce has on child’s behavior and development.
The Court has set forth requirements, effective May 1, 2016, in which a
summary of the provisions are listed below:
The parties in a divorce involving minor children are
required to attend and participate in a Parent Education Program. However, the Judge reserves discretion to require the parties to establish
paternity, complaints for modification/contempt, any other case involving parenting time,
support of minor children to attend a Parent Education Program.
The parties in a divorce in which minor children are involved are required
to register for a Parent Education Program
within thirty days of the original complaint upon the original defendant. If there are other parties who have been
ordered to attend the Parent Education Program, they too, must register
within thirty days of the order. The Court has discretion to impose penalties
for parties who fail to register or complete the program. Once parties
have successfully registered, they must complete the “Affidavit
Confirming Registration at Parent Education Program” and file it
with the Court.
Divorcing parents (and parents in other cases who have been ordered to
attend the program by the Court) are
required to attend the program, unless it has been waived by the Court. Upon the successful completion of the program, the parties must file
their Certificate of Attendance with the Court no later than thirty days
If a party seeks to
waive their attendance at the Parent Education Program, the party must
file a “Motion to Waive Attendance at a Parent Education Program,” along with giving notice to the other party. The motion must detail the
reason why the party is unable to attend a Parent Education Program. Waivers
have been successfully granted for: chronic and severe violence that prohibits
safe parental communication; language barriers; institutionalization and/or
unavailability of the party; or where justice otherwise indicates. The
Court may deny the Motion and may instead require the party to watch a
five-hour DVD program to satisfy the Parent Education Program requirement.
It must be noted that a waiver for one party does not automatically apply
to the other party.
If a party is
unable to attend the Parent Education Program in person, they may file
a “Motion to Permit Completion of Parent Education Program via DVD.” This motion must detail the reason why the parent is unable to attend
the Parent Education Program in person. Approval of this motion may be
granted if the party can show: significant health or financial issues;
significant geographic and transportation issues or significant barriers
to in person participation; or where justice so indicates. If Motion is
granted, the party must complete the DVD program and obtain a Certificate
of Attendance, which must be provided to the Court no later than thirty
days after completion. It must again be noted that approval for one parent
does not automatically apply to the other parent.
Unless the Court has ordered otherwise, the parties
must attend programs that are currently approved by the Chief Justice of
the Probate and Family Court. The program vendors will ensure that parties to the same action do not
attend the same session of any program unless ordered otherwise by the
Court. Currently available and approved programs are listed at
Upon filing a complaint for divorce involving minor children,
both parties will be provided with a copy of this Standing Order by his/her Wellesley divorce attorney.
Each party shall pay $80.00 to the provider in advance of the program for materials, facilitators,
and program administration. The same fee applies to those who have permission
to complete the program via DVD.
If a party is
unable to pay the $80.00 fee, the party may be eligible to pay a reduced
fee of $5.00 to the program provider. The party must submit an “Affidavit of Indigency and Request for
Waiver; Substitution or State Payment of Fees and Costs” to the
Court for approval. If approved, the party must submit a copy of the approved
waiver to the Parent Education provider when attending the program for
the $5.00 reduced fee.
Can You Get Schedule Your Divorce Prior to Attending This Program?
uncontested divorce hearing may be scheduled pending attendance, if the parties file an affidavit confirming their registration and
so long as both parties complete the program prior to the hearing.
A Pre-Trial Conference in a
contested divorce case may be similarly scheduled so long as both parties complete the program
prior to the Pre-trial conference. The Court will not hold a trial until it has received Certificates of
Attendance from an approved program for each party, or waives the requirement.
To learn more about this requirement or to get qualified representation
for your divorce in Wellesley, MA, call Barach Law Groupo LLC for a