What is parent education?
Parenting education programs seek to provide parents with the information and skills necessary to promote healthier communication with each other and their children and reduce the amount of litigation and conflict between parents going through divorce or separation proceedings.
Illinois law requires all parents of minor children involved in any action involving custody or visitation to complete a court-authorized parent education program, except for good cause shown. Such actions include post-decree proceedings for modification of custody or visitation or for relocation of a child or children from Illinois.
The only parent education programs authorized by the Circuit Court of Cook County are:
1. Focus on Children (FOCUS) in-class parent education program; and
2. Children in Between Online (CIBO) online parent education program.
Focus on Children (FOCUS) is the court-authorized in-class parenting education program. The program is offered through Cook County’s Marriage and Family Counseling Service (MFCS). The program is offered in both English and Spanish. Focus on Children offers classes focusing on pre-decree, post-decree and parentage issues. You do not need a court order to attend Focus on Children. Please be advised that if you have been ordered to attend a mediation or an emergency intervention, the court will require that you complete this in-person program even if you have already completed Children in Between Online. You must complete the Focus on Children program before you can attend mediation. After you complete Focus on Children, you will receive a “Certificate of Completion,” which is your proof for the court that you completed the program.
The Center for Divorce Education’s Children in Between Online (CIBO) is the only court-authorized online parenting education program. This online program is offered in both English and Spanish. You do not need a court order to take CIBO, and you can take it up to sixty days before you file your case. Please note that if you are ordered to attend mediation or emergency intervention, you will be required to complete the Focus on Children in-class parenting education program regardless whether you have completed this online course. After you complete Children in Between Online, you will receive a “Certificate of Completion,” which is your proof for the court that you completed the program. To learn more about the CDE’s Children In Between Online course go to
Both programs are approximately four (4) hours long.
Jennifer R. Ward and Tania K. Harvey of Ward Family Law, LLC are experienced family law attorneys that can guide you through the parent education course process in Cook County, Illinois.
Jennifer R. Ward has exclusively practiced in the matrimonial and family law field for nearly 20 years. Furthermore, Ms. Ward is Adjunct Faculty at the John Marshall Law School teaching family law legal drafting to law students and has done so since 2005.