“I resented having to go to this class initially. I thought it was just a bureaucratic thing I had to do, but I found myself getting a ton from it. I’m not happy about getting a divorce but I want to do what’s right by my girls.”
Those are the words of Robert M. a resident of Floyd County after attending a court-mandated TransParenting class last Friday in the main courtroom at the Gordon County Courthouse.
The TransParenting class is one of many held in Bartow and Gordon counties taught by Dr. Frank Weathersby and his wife Beth.
Dr. Weathersby said the program started in this area in 1990, a product of retired Judge Tom Pope.
According to Weathersby, the purpose to have the class is because so many people were having to go back before the court with child support and custody problems. The judges decided that if they came up with something to help people negotiate the dramatic change in their lives, maybe fewer people would come back.
“We look at divorce, start off by talking about the grief process and the emotional reaction to divorce from the children point of view and the parents point of view,” Weathersby said of the class outline. “We look at it from a legal point of view. We talk about the financial aspect of divorce, we get into the specific of child support, we talk about how divorce affects your relationship with family and friends,” he said.
He said they also talk about developing new families after divorce.
“Most people after they divorce remarry at some point,” he said.
Karen White, Executive Vice President for Advocates for Children said divorce is a defining event in the life of a child.
“The life that follows divorce is significantly different than the previous life of the family, and it is imperative that the parents work cooperatively to lessen the impact on their kids,” she said on the importance of parents getting along. “Divorce creates great fear in children, but they will still be able to thrive if both parents consciously focus on making them feel secure.”
Classes are required, according to Dr. Weathersby. If the class requirements are not met, in some cases, the divorce will not be granted.
“I don’t know if that’s universal. I doubt that it is because, for an example, you may be divorcing someone who has moved to another state and will never come back to this state to attend the seminar, so in that case, I’m pretty sure that the judge will go ahead and grant the divorce,” he said. “However, it’s certainly going to affect the visitation rights of the person that does not attend the divorce.”
Classes can be taken in any county in the state that has an accredited program.
Weathersby said he’s not sure if the seminars are statewide, but close to being.
“All the surrounding counties around Cartersville and Calhoun have the seminar,” he said.
According to Weathersby, classes are $40 per person, unless the parent has Medicaid, then it’s $10. Parents are only required to attend one class, which lasts for four hours.
Classes in Gordon County average in size of 20-25 people, while the average class size in Bartow County is 35-45 people.
White said they are consistently receiving positive feedback through exit survey that participants complete.
“Divorce is a difficult and emotionally trying experience,” White said. “Most parents have hesitation about attending the course, but end the session feeling encouraged and supported by the instructor and by their peers, and equipped with better ways to communicate with their former spouse for the sake of their children.”
Robert M. said the class really helped him. “I thought the instructors were very knowledgeable and it was real life experience that gave me some good things to think about as someone who is going through a divorce and needs to know how to best deal with the kids,” he said.
In addition to classroom dialogue, participants are shown videos. Jennifer Matthews, Director of Marketing at Advocates for Children, said new ones were made last year because the others were outdated. There are seven total videos, which cover everything from social media, alcoholic mom, absent dad and more.
Matthews said they are proud to have the TransParenting classes as one of their programs.
She said divorce is a large stressor in any relationship. “When you have stressors, people tend to not be as patient and understanding and it can lead to bad situations,” she said.
Matthews said they want to do anything possible to make sure that every child is brought up in a very positive, loving and caring home.
“Divorce is hard and it’s hard on everybody and we’re glad that we can be a part of this class that hopefully makes a difficult part of their life a little bit easier.”
Source: Divorce - Google News