Position Statement – 2018
Response to Request for Public Comment on Proposal by JROPE (Judicial Restoration of Parent Education)
By a Memorandum dated November 29, 2017, the Administrative Board of the New York State Unified Court System seeks public comment on a proposal by Judicial Restoration of Parent Education (JROPE) to amend 22 NYCRR § 144.3 (2)(b) to require judges to order parents to attend parent education programs in Supreme and Family Court cases in which the custody of children is an issue, unless the Court determines that attendance would be inappropriate. The current rule provides that attendance may be ordered by the Court in its discretion. JROPE points out that mandatory parent education programs exist in 46 states.
JROPE’s proposal provides for both an in-person and an online program, with the cost of attendance set at no more than $100 per person pursuant to the existing rule. Both programs would be developed by private vendors to be approved by OCA.
While WBASNY agrees that parent education and awareness programs are highly beneficial to children, we are concerned about the cost of the program to parents. We concur with and support the suggestions of the Matrimonial Practice Advisory and Rules Committee (MPARC) as set forth in its January 25, 2018 Response to Request for Comment on JROPE Parent Education Proposal. MPARC proposes the following:
- Parent education should be mandatory in contested actions for divorce, annulment or separation where a Request for Judicial Intervention has been filed if there are minor children of the marriage, regardless of whether custody is an issue;
- As JROPE proposes, judges should have discretion to waive attendance;
- OCA should produce a film to be shown to parent education participants free of charge. The film should be available online and in the courthouse. The online version should be available in multiple languages, including sign language.
WBASNY further believes that the MPARC proposal should be extended to custody cases filed in Family Court.