Under Illinois Supreme Court Rules, all parents who go through a divorce or parentage action must take a parenting class. The name and type of class varies by the different counties within Illinois, however, the focus of the class remains the same, and that is to try and teach parents how to effectively co-parent when they are no longer within a relationship. The class also focuses on teaching the parties how to behave in a way which is in the best interests of the minor child or children involved in the case.
Most of the time a parenting class is required before a matter will be finalized. Proof of attendance of a parenting class is given to the Court by the filing of a certificate indicating a party completed the course. Most counties require that a party take their county-specific parenting class. However, exceptions may be made for parties who do not live within the county in which the class is offered, but a party generally needs court permission prior to taking a different course. For example, if a party lives in California, it doesn’t necessarily make financial sense for them to fly in to Chicago to take the Cook County Focus on Children parenting course. That may be cost prohibited. However, that same party can file a petition requesting leave to either take the course online, take a similar course within the county in which they reside in California, or to have the parenting class requirement waived all together. Most Judges will not waive a parenting course, however, if the parties get along exceptionally well and have a full agreement without any court intervention or mediation, there is a small chance a parenting class could be waived. However, to ensure a case is finalized on the date when it is set for finalization, it is important to have a certificate of completion for the county approved parenting course, or for a course in which the court previously granted a party leave to complete.