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Learn about parent education

Find information on what divorcing couples need to know about parent education.

Attendance, registration and records

Couples who are getting divorced and have children under 18 must participate in an approved Parent Education Program. In some cases, a judge may require people in other types of family law cases to attend a Parent Education Program as well.

You must register with an approved program within 30 days from when the original complaint was served on the original defendant. Others ordered to attend a parent education program must register for a program within 30 days of the order. Programs will make sure that parents don't attend the same session of any program unless the court orders otherwise.

Each parent must pay $80 to the provider in advance. The same fee applies if you participate via DVD or the online program. If you can’t afford the $80 fee, you may be eligible to pay a reduced fee of $5 to the provider. You must submit an Affidavit of indigency and Request for Waiver, Substitution or State Payment of Fees and Costs to the court. If the court accepts the waiver, you must give a copy of the approved waiver to the Parent Education provider.

After you register, complete and file the Affidavit confirming registration at a parent education program (CJD-51). After you complete the program, you’ll receive a Certificate of Attendance.  You must file this certificate with the court no later than 30 days after completing the program.

Getting excused from parent education

If you have a very good reason, you may be able to get excused from attending parent education. To request a judge's permission to not attend, file a Motion to waive attendance at parent education program.

The motion must include the reason you think you can't attend a Parent Education Program. Acceptable reasons may be:

  • Chronic and severe violence that makes safe communication between parents impossible
  • Language barriers
  • If one party is institutionalized or otherwise unavailable
  • Where justice otherwise indicates

The court may decide that you must use the 5-hour DVD or online program called KidCare for Co-Parents: An Educational Program for Divorcing Families to satisfy the Parent Education Program requirement. One parent’s requirement being waived doesn’t necessarily mean the other parent’s requirement will also be waived.

Online and DVD parent education

If you can’t attend an in person Parent Education Program, you may file a Motion to permit completion of parent education program via DVD or online (CJD-445). KidCare for Co-Parents is a 4.5 hour multimedia, interactive program that can be used with a DVD player on either a personal computer or a TV. The motion must include the reason you believe you can’t attend a Parent Education Program in person. Examples where the DVD program may be ordered include unusual situations, such as:

  • Incarceration
  • Extended hospitalization
  • Extended military service
  • One party lives outside of Massachusetts

If allowed, you must complete the interactive program and get a Certificate of Attendance. One parent being allowed to complete the program online or via DVD doesn’t necessarily mean the other parent will be allowed to. You must give the certificate to the court no later than 30 days after completing of the program.