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In difficult child custody cases, parenting class may offer help

Couples who are in the midst of a divorce are often so emotionally overwrought that it is difficult to focus on their children. In some cases, there is so much animosity toward one another, the child custody issue becomes a game of one- upmanship. Some New York families may find themselves in this situation right now.

One county in a state out West has developed a program that is often helpful to these families. It is a parenting class called "TransParenting," and its goal is to help parents view their divorce through the eyes of their children. One of the teachers of the program once witnessed two parents physically pulling a child back and forth while verbally berating one another. That scene was the catalyst for the parenting class.

The program is mandated by a judge when he or she orders an investigation into a child custody plan proposal and a couple demonstrates an inability to consider the best interest of their children ahead of their personal issues. One important tool that the parents receive is a book that takes them through the divorce process as their child experiences it. The class helps the parents to view the divorce as a grieving process and encourages them to focus on the positive aspects of parenting children regardless of the dissolved marriage.

While this particular parenting class is not offered in New York, there are likely similar programs that may be of benefit to divorcing couples. One judge lamented that many couples seem to lose sight of the best interest of the child when they are busy with their personal anger. However, more than three-fourths of the parents who attended the one-day program had an overwhelmingly positive reaction to it and stated that many could learn from it. Families here who are struggling to reach their own child custody plan may seek additional guidance from experienced local resources.

Source: billingsgazette.com, "Judges turn to class to help ex-spouses focus on kids", Susan Olp, Oct. 5, 2014

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