Court’s online class can help parents who are separating prepare children before case is filed and after

Released On 11/16/2012


Even before they step into the courthouse, parents contemplating divorce

can now take a parenting class online to help their

children deal with the effects of divorce. 

Circuit Court of Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans and Domestic Relations Division Presiding Judge Grace G. Dickler announced the court is now offering parenting education classes online through a new interactive program, Children in Between Online (CIBO) at   

The program is aimed at married and unmarried parents without custody or visitation issues who have filed a case in the court’s Domestic Relations Division and parents who are considering filing a case in the Domestic Relations Division but have not yet filed. Matters heard in the Domestic Relations include divorce, paternity, custody and child support.

 Parents already in court will now have a choice between taking parenting classes either through the online CIBO program, which does not require a court order, or through the traditional court-ordered classroom format, Focus on Children, presented by the court’s Marriage and Family Counseling Service at several court locations.  Parents who are not yet in court may only take the online course for which a court order is not required. 

Illinois law requires parents, except for good cause shown, to attend a court approved parenting education program in all dissolution of marriage/civil union cases which involve a minor child and in all parentage (paternity) cases.  Parents who have not yet filed a case may take the online course no more than 60 days in advance of filing to fulfill the court’s requirement.

Chief Judge Evans said, “Judges look to parenting education as a valuable tool that can help families going through child custody proceedings to achieve positive outcomes.  The online option not only makes parenting education more accessible, it also gives parents still contemplating divorce a head start in preparing their children for the future.”

Evans noted the online CIBO course, available in English and Spanish, eliminates the necessity of parents having to miss work or incurring the additional expenses of traveling and parking to attend a Focus on Children class. 

Presiding Judge Dickler said she expects the online course to be a popular choice because it will be accessible twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.  In 2012, around 4,800 parents attended the Focus on Children classroom program. 

“Our judges and Marriage and Family Counseling Service staff are extremely excited about being able to offer low-conflict litigants an online alternative to Focus on Children. We foresee it having a dramatic impact on the Domestic Relations Division’s parenting education program,” said Presiding Judge Dickler.  She noted that offering the online program will also open up more space in the Focus on Children class, so parents in more contentious cases can attend the program sooner.

The online parenting education option was made possible thanks to a change in circuit court local rules adopted by the Circuit Court of Cook County circuit judges.  The cost of the online CIBO course is $39.95 per parent. The fee may be waived at the discretion of the court.

For more information:

Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans: 312.603.6000

Domestic Relations Division Presiding Judge Grace G. Dickler: 312.603.6556



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Background on Parenting Education in the Circuit Court of Cook County

The Focus on Children program was started in 1994 by the Domestic Relations Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County.  A groundbreaking parenting education program, it was one of the first programs of its kind to address the effects that divorce and separation have on children. Judges have found the program to be extremely successful.  Demand for Focus on Children has grown since the enactment of the Illinois Supreme Court Rule 900 Series in 2006, which requires parents with cases involving minor children to attend a parenting education program.  

CIBO was developed by The Center for Divorce Education, a nonprofit corporation founded in 1987 which works with parents to minimize the harmful effects of divorce or separation on children. Similar to Cook County’s Focus on Children program, CIBO is an interactive program that provides parents with information and skills to promote healthy communication with each other and their children. CIBO is currently used by many different court systems throughout the country and has been proven to reduce the amount of litigation and conflict between parents who complete the program.



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