(1) The family court department or, if there is no family court department, the presiding judge or designee of each circuit court may establish an education program designed to inform parents about the impact of family restructuring on children when the parent is a named party in any of the following proceedings:
(a) An annulment or dissolution of marriage action.
(b) A legal separation action.
(c) A petition to establish custody or parenting time.
(d) Post-judgment litigation involving custody or parenting time.
(2) An education program established under subsection (1) of this section must include, but need not be limited to, information about:
(a) The emotional impact of a dissolution of marriage or a separation on children at different developmental stages.
(b) Parenting during and after a dissolution of marriage or a separation.
(c) Custody, parenting time and shared parenting plans.
(d) The effect on children of parental conduct including, but not limited to, long distance parenting.
(e) Mediation and conflict resolution.
(3) The family court department or, if there is no family court department, the presiding judge or designee of each circuit court may establish an education program designed to provide information about dissolution law and legal procedures, mediation and other dispute resolution alternatives to persons seeking to annul or dissolve a marriage or to separate from each other. The program must include, but need not be limited to, information about:
(a) Shared parenting plans.
(b) Division of marital property.
(c) Spousal and child support.
(d) Court procedures and time requirements.
(e) Litigation, mediation and conflict resolution.
(f) The role of attorneys in mediation.
(4) The court may order the parties in any action listed in subsection (1) of this section to participate in education programs described in this section unless:
(a) Subject to the approval of the court, the parties agree not to participate;
(b) On motion of either party or on its own motion, the court determines that participation is unnecessary; or
(c) With prior approval of the court, the parties select and participate in comparable education programs.
(5) The court may not require both parties to attend an education program established under this section at the same time.
(6)(a) The family court department or, if there is no family court department, the presiding judge or designee of each circuit court shall designate the program providers for the education programs.
(b) A program provider may charge a person a reasonable fee to attend education programs. A program provider may not exclude a person from attending education programs due to an inability to pay the fee if the court has indicated that the person is indigent or otherwise unable to pay the fee.
(c) A program provider shall issue a certificate of completion to a participant when the participant has satisfactorily completed the education programs. A certificate of completion must be filed with the court prior to the entry of the judgment in the action. [1995 c.800 §10(1),(2),(3); 1997 c.249 §2; 1997 c.707 §4; 1999 c.59 §3; 2003 c.576 §271]
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Last modified: August 7, 2008