Communications Office:
David Bookstaver, Director
Mai Yee, Assistant Director
(212) 428-2500

Date: July 24, 2006

Seal of the Unified Court System
www.nycourts.gov

New York Judges Can Now Order Parents To Attend Classes Designed to Ease Divorce Trauma on Children

New Court Rule Gives “Teeth” to Judges’ Program Referrals

NEW YORK—Judges in New York State will have the authority to mandate parents involved in custody or visitation disputes to attend certified parent education programs, following a new court rule issued today. The programs, designed to give parents practical tools to reduce the stress of family break-up on their children and protect them from the negative effects of parental conflict, have been available for several years, but until now, judges have only been able to make referrals, not order participation. As a result, compliance with these program referrals has been lower than optimal.

The new rule, which goes into effect immediately, was adopted by the Administrative Board of the Courts and promulgated by Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman.

“Under the leadership of Chief Judge Judith Kaye, the benefits of parent education programs have been well established in New York,” said Judge Lippman. “They help reduce parental conflict and ease the trauma of family break-up on youngsters. However, without the authority to mandate participation in these valuable programs, judges are finding that litigants are not complying with their referrals. This new court rule will give teeth to a judge’s order, which ultimately serves the best interests of the children and families involved.”

In New York, there are 53 parent education programs certified by the court system operating in 47 counties. They provide information to divorcing, separating and never married parents about the impact of parental conflict on children, how children experience family change, and ways in which parents can help their children manage the family reorganization. Sensitivity is shown to domestic violence concerns, and a parent whose safety would be compromised by attending can opt out.

The court system’s statewide Parent Education and Awareness Program is chaired by Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Frazee of the Seventh Judicial District. Susan L. Pollet serves as the program’s counsel and director.
More information on court-certified parent education programs in New York can be obtained from the website www.nycourts.gov/ip/parent-ed.

Web page updated: August 16, 2006