The Massachusetts Probate and Family Court has issued Standing Order 3-23, which requires parties to divorce, annulment, parentage, and modification actions involving custody or parenting time filed on or after November 1, 2023, to complete a four-hour online parenting course called “Two Parents Now.” The course is designed to strengthen parenting skills, effectuate positive co-parent communication, help parents find ways to reduce co-parent conflict and help parents understand the negative impact parental conflict can have on children.
The parenting course is mandatory except for those parties who file a full or partial written agreement on parenting time and custody issues within 60 days of service of the summons. If no parenting agreement is filed within 60 days, the court will issue an order for parents to attend the online course, which must be completed within 45 days thereafter. Either party may seek to waive the requirement for good cause shown. The court can issue sanctions for failure to complete the course, and no trial will be scheduled until the court receives a certificate of completion from each parent (or there is a waiver). The certificate of completion must be filed within 14 days of completion of the course.
There is a fee of $49 per parent to enroll in the course. The fee may be waived upon a showing of indigency. Any information submitted or used by a parent in conjunction with the online court is confidential and cannot be discovered in the pending case.
Dr. Laura Backen Jones, a developmental psychologist, developed the content of the course offered by Two Families Now. The program includes information on protecting children from conflict, effective listening, communicating, transitioning children between households, establishing new routines, and building a support network. This online course replaces the in-person courses required between 2016 and 2021. The online course allows parents much more flexibility regarding when the 4 hours can be completed and is used nationwide.
For more information or to enroll, click here.
Until next time,
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