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Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

New Oklahoma co-parenting law strengthened to help kids with divorcing parents

STILLWATER, Okla. – When marriages and relationships break up, former partners are free to go their own ways, unless, of course, children are involved. In those cases, it is up to parents to find a way to share child-rearing duties.

Enter co-parenting, the art of parents making a conscious effort to work together to overcome the challenges of divorce to help their children adjust to the new family structure while reducing conflict with their former spouse or partner.

“Divorce is life-changing for everyone in the family, including the children, and how the parents handle the divorce can make the experience better or worse for them,” said Ron Cox, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension marriage and family specialist.

Whether or not you are familiar with co-parenting, you may begin hearing it pop up. After Oklahoma House Bill 2249 went into effect Nov. 1, divorcing parents with minor children (under 18) are now required to attend a co-parenting class that relates to the impact of divorce on children.

Under the previous version of the law, co-parenting classes were recommended but it was up to each court system to choose whether to make it a requirement of granting a divorce.

Studies on the long-term effect of co-parenting classes show they significantly reduce conflict between parents, boost parents’ understanding of what their children are experiencing and increase parents’ ability to keep their children out of the middle of the divorce.

In Oklahoma, Extension’s Co-Parenting for Resilience class meets all the requirements of the new state law and has a long, strong track record of effectiveness.

Evaluations from recent classes indicate more than 90 percent of participants reported learning new ways to effectively parent their children during and after the divorce.

Even three months after completing the class, parents reported they continued to use the strategies they learned to work together more, help their kids to see both parents more and cut down the amount of conflict they have with their co-parent. Further, 85 percent of participants said they would recommend the class to a friend who is divorcing.

“The reality is parents who are or who soon will be ‘ex-spouses’ still need to work together for the sake of their children. Extension’s co-parenting course gives parents the strategies and tools to do that successfully,” Cox said.

Developed by a multidisciplinary team of researchers at OSU, Co-Parenting for Resilience uses a combination of lecture, discussion, video and interactive activities to assist parents in identifying the most effective ways to help their children adjust to divorce.

The class is based on the latest, cutting-edge research in the marriage and family field. Educators specially trained to work with divorcing couples lead class sessions, which are offered statewide.

Extension will soon be offering an online version of its class for participants who have been granted permission by their judges to complete the requirement in this format.

For more information about Co-Parenting for Resilience classes, including costs and course dates, check with your local county Extension office or go to www.coparenting.okstate.edu.

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Oklahoma State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local Governments Cooperating: The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, or status as a veteran, and is an equal opportunity employer.

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Leilana McKindra
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Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078
Phone: 405-744-6792
Fax: 405-744-5739
Email: leilana.mckindra@okstate.edu

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078
405.744.5000