Frequently Asked Questions by Families
What is Parents Forever™?
Parents Forever™ is a curriculum and related series of classes designed for parents who have children ages birth through 18 and are going through a family transition like divorce or separation. It is also intended for unmarried parents who are having paternity, parenting time, and/or child support issues. For more information, see About the Program.
Who should take a Parents Forever™ class?
Current Minnesota law requires parents with contested custody and parenting time issues to take Parents Forever™ or another parent education program that has been approved by the Minnesota Supreme Court. We have found that all parents going through family transitions such as divorce can benefit from Parents Forever™.
Do I need to be court-ordered to take Parents Forever™?
No; in fact, we encourage you to take the classes as early in the divorce process as possible, even before you go to court.
What will I learn in Parents Forever™?
Parents Forever™ will help you learn skills to minimize the negative effects of divorce on your children. Parents Forever™ consists of a minimum of 8 hours of class. For more information, see What Will You Learn?
Why am I required to take this class?
Education is part of the divorce process in most Minnesota counties. Court officials were concerned about the number of issues related to divorce and custody that were affecting children. In 1998, the Minnesota Legislature passed a law that required judges to court-order parents with contested custody and parenting time issues to a court-approved parent education class like Parents Forever™. See more about the Minnesota Statute 518.157. Beyond Minnesota, a growing number of states are also requiring some amount of education as part of the divorce process.
I am a good parent, so why do I need to take this class?
The court order is not a reflection on the quality of your parenting. When you go through a family change such as divorce, it can be very difficult for your children and you. Even the best parents need ideas for parenting during these challenging times. Parents Forever™ will give you information to help you make this transition less difficult. For more information about the topics covered, see What Will You Learn?
Why do I need 8 hours of education as a Minnesotan parent?
Both our online and in-person Parents Forever™ classes meet for a minimum of 8 hours, the amount required in Minnesota by Minnesota Statute 518.157. (The North Dakota version of the class is 4.5 hours and does not meet Minnesota requirements.) We know that this is a big investment of time for you. By taking a comprehensive approach, you will have the opportunity to learn the best tools to help your children through this difficult time. For more information about the topics covered, see What Will You Learn?
I don't live in Minnesota and my state doesn't require the full 8 hours of education. Is there another option?
Yes! The North Dakota version of the course is only 4.5 hours and may better meet the minimum requirements of your state. For more information, see Parents Forever™ Online Course for North Dakota Parents.
Do I take the class with the other parent of my child(ren)?
If you have both been court-ordered, you will both need to take a class similar to Parents Forever™. If you take the in-person classes, many communities take steps to have parents attend different class sessions. You will both still receive the same information. We have found that everyone is better able to listen and ask their questions when the other parent is not in the same room. In the online version, you will each complete the course independently.
What if I don’t attend class?
If you are court-ordered, it is up to the judge to enforce the court order.
I don’t have time to do this. Can I get excused from this requirement?
It is up to the judge to enforce the court order, but it is rare for them to offer exceptions because of time restraints. The online version of the course is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The in-person classes are offered evenings and weekends; Contact a Local Parents Forever™ Program for more information about in-person classes. If you are in North Dakota, visit their program website for information about in-person offerings: NDSU: Parents Forever™.
How do I decide if the online or in-person version of the class is better for me?
Both versions of the class are well-designed and contain the same information. Both meet all 25 minimum standards required for Minnesota court-ordered education. It really comes down to availability and learning style. When deciding what would work best for you, see the quick comparison at Which Course is for You: In-Person or Online? Note that the North Dakota version does not meet Minnesota requirements.
I've seen offerings for other online courses that claim they meet Minnesota Supreme Court requirements. Can I take one of those courses instead?
At this time, Parents Forever™ Online Course for Parents is one of two online offerings approved by the Minnesota Supreme Court. We were first — creating the course in partnership with the Minnesota Supreme court and approved since February 2012. While other courses may claim to meet minimum requirements or that they have been approved, many of them are not approved and should not be accepted as meeting the court order.
I don't live in Minnesota. Will Parents Forever™ meet the requirements of my state?
In general, Minnesota has some of the most stringent standards for key topics to be taught and hours of education required. Because Parents Forever™ has been tailored to meet these high standards, it often meets the divorce education requirements of other states. Parents Forever™ is currently taught in several states besides Minnesota. Also, we have partnered with North Dakota State University Extension Service to tailor a version of our online course specifically for North Dakota parents. To ensure that Parents Forever™ meets your state’s requirements, check with your state’s Supreme Court. If they are not familiar with Parents Forever™, share the minimum standards that are covered in our program and mention that our program is designed to be taught in a minimum of 8 hours of education. Unless you can find an in-person Parents Forever™ course offered in your state, the online version of the course would probably work best.
Who teaches the class and what are their qualifications?
The online course was created and led by the University of Minnesota Extension authors of the Parents Forever™ curriculum. In-person class trainers come from a variety of backgrounds. In some counties, you will have a different trainer depending on the topic. In other places, there will be a male and female trainer team that teaches the entire series. We ask programs to ensure that all trainers have a professional degree in areas such as parent education, social work, counseling, law, or mediation. In addition, we ask that all trainers receive training on the Parents Forever™ curriculum from the University of Minnesota Extension. All trainers have also been interviewed and approved by the local program offering the class.
Do I have to complete the classes before the court hearing?
This is up to the judge. Read your court order carefully to see what is required. We have found from experience that it is best to take the classes as early in the divorce process as possible. The information presented in the classes will help you get a head start on reducing conflict and ensuring that your children’s needs are met through the transition.
My court order says I need to sign up in 10 days and complete it by 90 days. What do you suggest I do?
If you have a narrow window for signing up and/or completing the course, the online version of the class may be more practical for you. (You may also be interested in the North Dakota version.) It may still be worth looking at your local program's class availability — availability varies greatly among counties.
I missed a class. How can I make it up?
Contact your Parents Forever™ program coordinator to make arrangements to take the class you missed. In some programs, they may charge a fee to reschedule the class. Find their contact information on this web page: In-Person Course. At this time, it is not possible to make up an in-person class through our online course system.
I have an IFP. I don't have to pay then, right?
In Minnesota, those with an IFP (in forma pauperis) are entitled to free education to meet their court-ordered requirement per Minnesota Statute 518.157, subd. 6. For the online course, see how to take the course for free. Explore available Parents Forever™ courses in Minnesota and find one near you.
What if I don't have the money to pay the fee?
In Minnesota, Minnesota Statute 518.157, subd. 6 requires programs to offer a sliding fee scale for parents who cannot afford to pay the full fee. For the online course, see how to apply for a reduced fee. For in-person classes, local Parents Forever™ programs determine their own sliding fee scale. Contact a Local Parents Forever™ Program for more information. Reduced fees are not available for those taking the North Dakota version of the online course or for those that are not in Minnesota.
Do I need anything for class?
The online version has certain computer requirements. For the in-person version, you may want to bring paper and pen to take notes. All other class materials are supplied.
To sign up for a Parents Forever™ class, see:
- Parents Forever™ Online Course for Parents
- Parents Forever™ Online Course for North Dakota Parents
- In-Person Course
What Will You Learn? — Learn what tools are provided to help you reduce the effects of your family transition.