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IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF FLORIDA, SEVENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
IN AND FOR FLAGLER, PUTNAM, ST. JOHNS AND VOLUSIA COUNTIES


RE: PARENT EDUCATION AND FAMILY STABILIZATION COURSE IN FAMILY LAW CASES
REF: FM-2013-016-SC (Rescinds FM-2012-016-SC)

WHEREAS, the Court believes that the perspectives of minor children should be considered by all parties in Family Law cases and that participation in an appropriate program will help parties foster stronger, more stable relationships with their children, and

WHEREAS, it has been made known to the undersigned that the efficient and proper adjudication of Family Law cases involving parents with minor children necessitates the establishment of certain guidelines regarding these programs;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, TERENCE R. PERKINS, Chief Judge of the Seventh Judicial Circuit of Florida, hereby order as follows:

1.    Pursuant to § 61.21(4), Florida Statutes, all parties to a dissolution of marriage proceeding with minor children, or a paternity action which involves issues of parental responsibility, shall attend and successfully complete a Parent Education and Family Stabilization course approved by the Department of Children and Family Services in accordance with § 61.21(2), Florida Statutes. The course(s) shall be designed to assist parents with children's issues as they make transitions during and after a divorce or separation.

2.    In Family Law cases involving issues of shared parental responsibilities and/or time-sharing of minor children, both parties shall attend and successfully complete a Parent Education and Family Stabilization course prior to the entry of a final judgment. Parties who have previously completed a parenting education course and have filed a Certificate of Completion are exempt from this requirement.

3.    In cases affected by this order, the Clerk of Court shall advise the Petitioner and/or Petitioner’s attorney of the requirements of this order by providing him/her with a copy, in either physical or electronic format, of instructions and information on how to access a list of providers when the case is filed. The Clerk shall document the provision of these materials to the Petitioner and/or Petitioner’s attorney, and the method by which they were provided, in the appropriate case file. It is the responsibility of the Petitioner and/or Petitioner’s attorney to provide the Respondent with a copy of the instructions and information on how to access a list of providers by including such with the petition at time of service. In cases where the Clerk of Court forwards the petition to the Sheriff for service, a copy of the instructions and information on how to access a list of providers must be included. The Court Administrator’s office will provide the Clerk with the aforementioned instructions and information.  

4.     In dissolution of marriage cases, the Petitioner shall enroll in a program of his/her choosing within twenty (20) days after filing the petition and shall complete said program within forty-five (45) days after filing. The Respondent shall enroll in a program of his/her choosing within twenty (20) days after service of the petition and shall complete said program within forty-five (45) days after service. Parties shall complete the chosen program(s) before participating in court-ordered mediation, or before the scheduled trial date, whichever is sooner. Upon successful completion of the chosen program(s), each party shall file a Certificate of Completion, supplied by the program provider, with the Clerk of Court, who shall file said Certificate in the appropriate case file.

5.    In paternity actions, the Petitioner shall enroll in a program of his/her choosing within twenty (20) days after filing the petition and shall complete said program within forty-five (45) days after filing. The respondent shall enroll in a program of his/her choosing and shall complete said program within forty-five (45) days after an acknowledgement of paternity by him/her, an adjudication of paternity as to him/her, or issuance of an order granting visitation to, or support from, him/her. Upon successful completion of the chosen program(s), each party shall file a Certificate of Completion, supplied by the program provider, with the Clerk of Court, who shall file said Certificate in the appropriate case file.

6.     Each party ordered to attend shall pay the cost of attending the program.  The cost of the program shall be set by the program provider, but shall be based on each party's ability to pay, as determined by the program provider.

7.     Parties many attend any Parent Education and Family Stabilization course approved by the Department of Children and Family Services.

8.     Nothing in this order requires parties to attend an approved Parent Education and Family Stabilization course together.

9.     Nothing in this order prohibits judges from referring parties to Parent Education and Family Stabilization courses in cases not subject to this order.

10.   Nothing in this order prohibits judges from waiving the requirements of this order upon presentation of a proper motion in individual cases.

11.   Failure to comply with the terms of this order may result in appropriate sanctions against the offending party.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Administrative Order # FM-2012-016-SC is hereby rescinded.

TO BE RECORDED in Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns and Volusia counties.

DONE AND ORDERED in Daytona Beach, Volusia County, Florida, this 25th day of September 2013.

/s/ Terence R. Perkins
TERENCE R. PERKINS
CHIEF JUDGE