Parent Education

In all dissolution of marriage and parentage cases, the Illinois Supreme Court requires litigating parents to attend a parenting education program.

Family Court Services offers the mandatory parent education program “Focus on Children” pursuant to Section 404.1 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act and Illinois Supreme Court Rule 924. The program endeavors to protect children’s best interests by educating parents on effective ways to co-parent after separation and divorce. The Domestic Relations Division has also authorized an online program called Children In Between Online (CIBO) to be used as an alternative to the in-person class when ordered by the court.

    Focus on Children

    Family Court Services’ Focus On Children program offers parents a way to gain insight and awareness as to how their choices and behaviors during and after separation or divorce impact their children. Most importantly, it provides information, skills, and resources to help parents protect their children from parental conflict and to help the family adjust to its new reality.    

    There are three main themes present in the curriculum: (1) how children of different ages and developmental stages experience separation and divorce, especially when parents become highly conflictual, (2) how parents can better understand and help their children cope with major change in their lives, and (3) how parents can better understand one another through effective communication and peaceful co-parenting. The program also explores the emotional impact of separation and divorce and their effects on parents and children alike.

    The curriculum consists of lectures by two program facilitators, exercises from the program workbook, video messages from Cook County Domestic Relations Division judges, video interviews of adults and children who have experienced separation and divorce, and small and large group discussions. The curriculum also acknowledges more complex issues that may be present for some families such as children with special needs, family and intimate partner violence, mental illness, and alcohol and substance abuse. The topics are not discussed in great detail due to time constraints, but information about how to access resources is provided.

    Program Registration

    Registration is required to attend the Focus on Children program. Parents are not allowed to attend the same class. Each party to a case must choose and register for their own class. Classes are offered on certain weekday mornings and weekday afternoons, as well as some Saturday mornings. Registration may be completed by calling (312) 603-1540 or by emailing a request to

    Program Cost

    There is a fee of fifty dollars ($50) to attend Focus on Children. The fee is payable at any suburban office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County before attending the class or in Room 802 at Daley Center in Chicago. The fee may be waived only by a court’s order.  

    Course Completion

    At the conclusion of the program, attendees are awarded a “Certificate of Completion,” which may be used as proof of attendance. Please take care to hold on to your certificate, as duplicate certificates are not available.

    Some parents may have taken an online parenting class or a different class elsewhere; however, if you have been ordered to participate in mediation or in an emergency intervention by the court, you will also need to take (or, in some cases, re-take) the in-person Focus on Children class (pursuant to Domestic Relations Division General Order: 2015 D 2).

    Frequently Asked Questions

      Yes. The Focus on Children class is required by an IL Supreme Court rule and by statute.

      No. The class is offered in-person only.

      Parents must register for the class by calling Family Court Services at (312) 603-1540, or by emailing a copy of the court order to and requesting registration.

      Focus on Children is a court-ordered proceeding which is scheduled during the Court’s operating hours on weekday mornings and afternoons (Monday through Friday) and on two Saturday mornings each month.

      The class is four hours long. It is scheduled from 8:45am until 12:45pm on certain weekday mornings, 12:45pm until 4:45pm on certain weekday afternoons, and 8:45am until 12:45pm on two Saturdays each month.

      Yes. There is a $50.00 class fee, unless it has been waived by the judge. The fee can be paid to the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County at the Daley Center located at 50 West Washington, Room 802 in Chicago, or at any of the Cook County suburban courthouses, between the hours of 8:30am and 4:30pm, Monday through Friday.

      No. Parents are prohibited from attending the same class with their former partner/spouse. 

      Children are not allowed in the class; however, childcare is available for minor children in the Children’s Advocacy Room on weekdays only (not on Saturdays).

      The class is offered in Spanish twice per month. Interpreters are available for languages other than English – including Sign Language – but must be scheduled in advance.

      No. All audio and visual recording or photography of any kind is strictly prohibited.