What are New York's requirements for mandatory parenting classes in divorce?

Understanding New York's Mandatory Parenting Classes in Divorce

In New York State, divorcing parents may be required to attend a parenting education program. This requirement is part of the state's effort to mitigate the emotional impact of divorce on children and to assist parents in understanding the challenges their kids may face during this transitional period. While not universally mandated, such classes are often ordered by the court in cases involving custody or visitation disputes.

The specific requirements for mandatory parenting classes in divorce proceedings can vary from one jurisdiction to another within New York. However, the core intent remains consistent: to promote the best interests of the children involved by encouraging cooperative parenting and offering strategies for conflict resolution.

Key Components of New York's Parenting Classes

Legal Framework & Historical Context

The trend towards mandating parenting education stems from a broader recognition of the negative effects of divorce on children, which gained prominence in social science research throughout the latter half of the 20th century. In response, jurisdictions across the United States began instituting various forms of parent education programs by the 1990s. New York's programs align with this national movement, designed to foster a child-centered approach to post-divorce family life.

Court Discretion in Ordering Parenting Classes

New York judges have significant discretion when it comes to ordering mandatory parenting classes. Courts will typically consider factors such as:

In high-conflict cases, or where communication between parents is particularly strained, a judge is more likely to mandate participation in these classes. It is worth noting that failure to comply with a court-ordered parenting class can lead to contempt of court charges and may negatively influence custody determinations.

Exemptions and Special Considerations

While New York encourages participation in parenting education programs during divorce proceedings, there are exemptions. Parents may be excused from attending if they can demonstrate that participation would be inappropriate or burdensome due to factors such as domestic violence concerns or logistical impossibilities.


Mandatory parenting classes serve an essential role in New York's family law system by equipping divorcing parents with tools to better support their children emotionally and navigate co-parenting challenges. By understanding and adhering to these requirements, parents can contribute positively to their children's well-being during and after divorce proceedings.