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Bill could require parenting classes for all Minnesota divorcés

When a married couple decides to end their marriage, it is not uncommon for one or both parties to feel bitterness or resentment. That is completely normal but, unfortunately, sometimes those negative feelings can seep through into a parent's interaction with his or her children.

We've written several times about the challenges facing children whose parents are divorced. Children are already vulnerable and being put in the middle of a parental dispute can be extremely difficult for them. With that in mind, Minnesota lawmakers are considering a proposed bill that would require all divorcing couples who have children under the age of 18 to take parenting classes.

Currently, state law only requires that parents going through a contested divorce take the classes. And many of those parents are able to get out of the classes by obtaining a waiver. But experts believe the classes can benefit all divorcing parents.

The bill also incorporates several improvements to the existing classes. It would make online classes an option for parents, increasing their ability to access the information and complete classes on a flexible schedule. The classes would also be cut to four hours, down from eight. Participant fees would also drop, from $90 to $40.

Some parents might be daunted at the prospect of entering a classroom and being expected to open themselves up to insight about their divorce and their parenting. However, the classes focus more on general principles of parenting than anyone's specific story. And they help divorcing parents put their children first, something that benefits all Minnesotans.

Source: 5 Eyewitness News, "Parenting Classes Could Be Required After Divorce in Minn.," Mark Saxenmeyer, March 30, 2013

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