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Extension > Family > Parents Forever™ > For Professionals > Co-Parent Court

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For Professionals

Co-Parent Court

Research shows that children of unmarried parents in the United States are at increased risk of many negative outcomes. These risks may be reduced by effective coparenting. The Co-Parent Court program supported parents through education and wraparound social services.

About the Program

Co-Parent Court was an innovative problem-solving model aimed at better supporting parents who were establishing paternity. It was a unique partnership of the family court system, child support enforcement agencies, community organizations, and University of Minnesota Extension. One key component of the model was an educational program that provides a safe environment for parents to strengthen their coparenting skills.

This program was co-developed through a partnership by the following organizations:

The curriculum used in the coparenting workshops was adapted from the Michigan State University program, Together We Can: Creating a Healthy Future for Our Family. The adaptation was a collaborative effort between the coparenting workshop facilitators and Extension Family Resiliency educators.

About the Demonstration Project

The Co-Parent Court program was piloted within the Hennepin County Court system from June 2010 to August 2013. In this demonstration project, workshops and services were offered to eligible participants within an innovative problem-solving court model. After paternity was established, parents were referred to the Co-Parent Court workshops. Through the series of three- to four-hour workshops (a total of 12 hours of education), parents discussed how to best work together for their children.

Because many of the parents who participated in the demonstration project experienced multiple challenges in their lives, they were also offered social services to address their own needs. These services included safe housing, education, employment, and physical or mental health care.

Finally, parents were assisted in completing a parenting plan template that guided them through joint decision-making about how they want to raise their child together.

The 3-year demonstration project was funded by grants from the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement, The McKnight Foundation, the Otto Bremer Foundation, and the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation. For more information on the Co-Parent Court project, see these journal articles:

Next Steps for the Program

The curriculum that was used to deliver the Co-Parent Court program is currently in the process of being finalized. More information will be made available on this website as it is available.

For more information about the Co-Parent Court project, contact Karen Shirer (612-626-3971; shire008@umn.edu).

Related Resources

Creating a Parenting Plan — Parenting plans are essential tools for coparents in keeping their children’s best interests at heart after a family transition. Get tools, like We Agree: Creating a Parenting Plan, and guidance on creating a parenting plan for your own family. Also in Spanish. English | español

Being Successful with Coparenting — Building a coparenting relationship with your children's other parent isn't always easy. These resources can help.

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