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Massachusetts Divorce Resources

From the Law Office of Robert P. Murray

©2004 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Robert P. Murray, Esquire


Parent Education Program: A Mandatory Seminar for Divorcing Parents in Certain Counties

Understanding the Effects of Divorce on Children
General Information
Common Questions
Approved Program Providers
Letter from the Probate & Family Court

General Information

In most divisions of the Probate Court, parties to a divorce action, where there are minor children of the marriage, must attend a parenting education program before their case will be scheduled for either a Pre-Trial Conference or for a Final Hearing (unless attendance is waived by the Court).

Which Counties?

This requirement has been mandatory since July 1, 1995 in Berkshire, Hampshire, Norfolk and Worcester Counties. This requirement is now mandatory IN ALL COUNTIES (with the exception of Dukes and Nantucket Counties).

What’s it all about?

Each party must make his/her own arrangements for attendance at one of the various centers offering the program. Although the parties may attend at the same center, they must attend separate sessions. The program administrators are responsible for insuring that the divorcing spouses do not attend the same sessions.

These programs are offered in various communities and consist of 2 sessions of 2 ½ hours each, for a total of 5 hours. The cost of the programs may vary from center to center, but the cost cannot exceed $65.00 in total for each parent. This fee may be reduced if a party is indigent or if the Court waives the fee.

Waiver of Attendance: The Court may waive the attendance requirement for one or both parties, but will only grant a waiver upon a demonstrated showing of chronic and severe violence which negates safe parental communication; language barriers; institutionalized or other unavailability of a party; failure of one party to complete a program; or where justice otherwise provides. In order to obtain a waiver, one must file a Motion with the Court and present sufficient facts at the hearing on the Motion. Waivers are rarely granted. Where one party refuses to attend, the other party may file the Motion in order to move their case along. The Court may impose sanctions against the party refusing to attend the parenting program.

Common Questions

I am a good parent. Why do I have to go?

The divorce process is a major life change that redefines the family. While the legal procedures of a divorce focuses the parties’ attention on their economic future, little attention is given to the emotional well-being of the children. The parent education programs listed in this brochure focus on the effect of divorce on child(ren); the process for restructuring your family; your own sense of loss; and strengthening your parent-child relationship.

Do I go to the program with my spouse?

No. Each of you decides which program you wish to attend. The Probate and Family Court Guidelines require that each program provider ensure that spouses attend separate sessions.

Must I select a program from the list of Approved Providers?

Yes. These programs meet the requirements set by the Probate and Family Court Guidelines.

How much do the programs cost?

The program provider decides the amount to charge but, under the Probate and Family Court Guidelines, cannot charge you more than $65.00 per person.

How do I register?

You should contact the Probate Court in the County in which your divorce action has been filed. You will be given a list of the names, addresses and telephone numbers of program centers nearby. Once you decide which program is most convenient for you, you should call the telephone number listed for information about registration and payment. A partial listing of centers is provided below.

Where Are the Courses Offered?

Approved Program Providers (Partial Listing)

[ ACTON ] [ BILLERICA ] [ BOSTON/BRIGHTON ] [ BRAINTREE ] [ BROCKTON ]

[ BROOKLINE ] [ CAMBRIDGE ] [ CANTON/STOUGHTON ] [ CHELMSFORD ] [ CHICOPEE ]

[ DANVERS ] [ DUNSTABLE ] [ FALL RIVER ] [ FITCHBURG ] [ FRAMINGHAM ] [ GARDNER ]

[ GREAT BARRINGTON ] [ GREENFIELD ] [ GROTON ] [ HANOVER ] [ LAWRENCE ]

[ LEOMINSTER ] [ LEXINGTON ] [ LITTLETON ] [ LOWELL ] [ LYNN ]

[ MARSHFIELD ] [ MARLBOROUGH ] [ MEDFORD ] [ MELROSE ] [ MIDDLEBOROUGH ]

[ MILFORD ] [ NEEDHAM ] [ NEW BEDFORD ] [ NEWBURYPORT ] [ NEWTON ]

[ NORTH ANDOVER ] [ NORTH READING ] [ NORTHAMPTON ] [ NORWOOD ] [ PITTSFIELD ]

[ PLYMOUTH ] [ QUINCY ] [ SALEM ] [ SOMERVILLE ] [ SOUTHBRIDGE ] [ SPRINGFIELD ]

[ TAUNTON ] [ WALTHAM ] [ WELLESLEY ] [ WEST SPRINGFIELD ] [ WESTBOROUGH ]

[ WESTFIELD ] [ WESTWOOD ] [ WORCESTER ]


ACTON

Changing Families, Changing Times
Boundaries Therapy Center
518 Great Road
(978) 263-4878

www.divorcenter.org

BILLERICA

“Divorce and Its Impact on Children’s Development”
First Parish Church
7 Concord Road
(978) 745-7808

BOSTON/BRIGHTON

Parents Apart
Charis Institute, Inc.
Massachusetts General Hospital
15 Parkman Street
(978) 774-1411 X-501

BRAINTREE

Parents Apart
Divorce Center, Inc.
Braintree Health South Hospital
250 Pond Street
(888) 434-8787

www.divorcenter.org

BROCKTON

Set a Good Example
MSPCC
231 Main Street
(800) 339-2204

OR

Parents Apart
Mass Bay Counseling
Massasoit Community College
1 Massasoit Avenue
(617) 786-0137

BROOKLINE

Parenting Through Divorce: Supporting the Child
Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis
1581 Beacon Street
(617) 277-3915

www.bgsp.edu

OR

For the Sake of the Children
Center for Families in Transition
1419 Beacon Street
(617) 965-1176

CAMBRIDGE

For the Sake of the Children
Center for Families in Transition
Cambridge YMCA
7 Temple Street
(617) 956-1176

CANTON/STOUGHTON

For Our Children
Jewish Family & Children’s Service
1017 Turnpike Street (Route 138)
(617) 558-1278

CHELMSFORD

Parents Apart
Family Associates of Merrimack Valley
201 Chelmsford Street
(978) 256-1467

CHICOPEE

Parents Apart
Charles River Hospital West
350 Memorial Drive
(413) 594-2211, Ext. 110

DANVERS

Parents Apart
Charis Institute, Inc.
Calvary Episcopal Church
Cherry Street
(978) 774-1411 X-502

DUNSTABLE

Moving Forward Seminars – A Program of Life Transitions, Inc.
P. O. Box 319
Dunstable, MA01827
(978) 649-6255

www.lifetransitionsinc.net

info@lifetransitionsinc.net

FALL RIVER

Family Service Assoc. of Fall River
151 Rock Street
(508) 678-7542

www.divorcingparents.com

OR

“Set a Good Example”
46 North Main Street
(800) 339-2204

FITCHBURG

“Reducing the Effects of Divorce”
Children’s Aid & Family Service, Inc.

United Way of Central Massachusetts
915 South Street
Fitchburg, MA01420
(978) 345-4147

e-mail:cafs@cafsinc.org

FRAMINGHAM

Consider the Children
Divorce Education, Inc.
Mass Bay Community College
19 Flagg Drive
(508) 435-4745

>GARDNER

 

Reducing the Effects of Divorce
Children’s Aid & Family Services, Inc.
Colonial Bed, Breakfast & Conference Center
625 Betty Spring Road
(978) 345-4147

GREAT BARRINGTON

Parents Apart
Great Barrington Police Station
Main Street
(413) 528-3508 or (413) 528-6550

GREENFIELD

Families in Transition
Franklin County Bar Assoc.
Greenfield Community College
Downtown Center
270 Main Street
(413) 773-9839

GROTON

Reducing the Effects of Divorce
Children’s Aid & Family Service
First Parish Unitarian Church, Rt. 119
(978) 345-4147

HANOVER

Parents Apart
Marvista Psychological Associates
South Shore Vocational High School
(781) 383-0860

LAWRENCE

Divorce and Its Impact on Children’s Development
Perspectives
Northern Essex Community College
45 Franklin Street
(978) 745-7808

LEOMINSTER

Reducing the Effects of Divorce
Children’s Aid & Family Service, Inc.
Health Alliance, Leominster Hospital Campus
60 Hospital Road
(978) 345-4147

LEXINGTON

Parents Apart
Charis Institute, Inc.
3 Militia Drive
(781) 863-0350, Ext. 503

LITTLETON

Moving Forward
Life Transitions, Inc.
461 King Street
(978) 649-6255

LOWELL

Divorce & Its Impact on Children’s Development, Perspectives
Pawtucket Congregational Church
15 Mammoth Road
(978) 745-7808

LYNN

Divorce and Its Impacts on Children’s Development
Perspectives
Atlantic Care Medical Center
500 Lynnfield Street
(978) 745-7808

OR

Understanding the Effects of Divorce on Children
Family & Children’s Service of Greater Lynn, Inc.
111 North Common Street
(781) 598-5517

MARSHFIELD

Parents Apart
Mass Bay Counseling
Marshfield High School
89 Forest Street
(617) 786-0137

MARLBOROUGH

Consider the Children
Divorce Education, Inc.
Relationship Institute
431 Bolton Street
(508) 435-4745

MEDFORD

Positive Co-Parenting in Difficult Times
Psychotherapy Associates of North Reading
Medford High School
489 Winthrop Street
(978) 664-2566

www.counseling.com/panr

MELROSE

Divorce and Its Impact on Children’s Development Perspectives
Melrose Highlands
Congregational Church
355 Franklin Street
(978) 745-7808

MIDDLEBOROUGH

Parents Apart
Charis Institute, Inc.
6 Plympton Street
(508) 947-1901

MILFORD

Consider the Children
Divorce Education, Inc.
Milford High School
31 West Fountain Street, Room C8
(508) 435-4745 or (508) 473-4674

OR

Families Divided
Wayside Community Counseling Center
10 Asylum Street
(508) 478-6888 X 103

NEEDHAM

Focusing on Our Children
Divorce Education Services
Deaconess-Glover Hospital
148 Chestnut Street
(781) 237-5064

NEW BEDFORD

Family Service Parent Education Program
Family Service Associates of Greater Fall River, Inc.
Fisher College
777 Church Street
(508) 678-7542

www.divorcingparents.com

OR

“Set a Good Example” (SAGE)
Mass. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (MSPCC)
558 Pleasant Street
(800) 339-2204

NEWBURYPORT

Parents Apart
Charis Institute, Inc.
Nock Middle School
(978) 774-1411 X-505

NEWTON

For Our Children
Jewish Family & Children’s Service
1340 Centre Street
(617) 558-1278

NORTH ANDOVER

Putting Children First
Family Services, Inc.
Merrimack College
(978) 683-9505

NORTH READING

Positive Co-Parenting in Difficult Times
Psychotherapy Assoc. of North Reading
324 Main Street (Rt. 28) and Barberry Road
(978) 664-2566

www.counselling.com/panr

NORTHAMPTON

Parents and Children in Transition
Hampshire County Bar Associates
Hall of Records Community Room
33 King Street
(413) 586-4597

NORWOOD

Parents Apart
Child & Family Psychological Services, Inc.
Norwood Junior High School
(781) 551-0999

www.cfpsych.org

OR

Focusing on Our Children
Divorce Education Services
Norwood Hospital
800 Washington Street
(781) 237-5064

PITTSFIELD

Families in Transition
Family Center of the Berkshires
741 North Street
(413) 447-2145

PLYMOUTH

Parents Apart
MarvistaPsychological Associates, P.C.
Plymouth North High School
41 Obery Street
(781) 383-0860

QUINCY

Parents Apart
Mass Bay Counseling
Adams Inn
29 Hancock Street
(617)786-3027

SALEM

Divorce & Its Impact on Children’s Development
Perspectives
6 Norman Street
(978) 745-7808

SOMERVILLE

Parents Apart
Charis Institute
31 College Avenue
(781) 863-0350 X-506

SOUTHBRIDGE

Parents Apart
George B. Wells Human Service Center
Harrington Memorial Hospital
29 Pine Street
(508) 765-9167

SPRINGFIELD

Parents and Children in Divorce Program
Child & Family Service of Pioneer Valley, Inc.
Bay State Medical Center
759 Chestnut Street
(413) 737-4718

www.cfs.org

OR

Parents, Children and Divorce Program
Behavioral Health Network
Child Guidance Clinic
110 Maple Street
(413) 732-7419

OR

Pathways Through Divorce
Jewish Family Service of Greater Springfield
15 Lenox Street
(413) 737-2601

www.jfslink.org

TAUNTON

Family Service Parent Education Program
Family Service Association of Greater Fall River, Inc.
176 Somerset Avenue
(508) 678-7542

www.divorcingparents.com

WALTHAM

Parents Apart Divorce Center, Inc.
West Suburban Chamber of Commerce
84 South Street
(888) 434-8787

www.divorcenter.org

WELLESLEY

Parents Apart
Charles River Health Management
Sarah Southwick Pavilion at Chas. River Hospital
203 Grove Street
(781) 304-3100

WEST SPRINGFIELD

Parents Apart
Parents in Cooperation
Brightside for Families and Children
2112 Riverdale Street
(413) 735-735-1719

WESTBOROUGH

Divorce that Works for Children
Active Counseling Associates
43 Hopkington Road
(508) 366-7557

WESTFIELD

Parents and Children in Divorce
Child & Family Service of Pioneer Valley, Inc.
Noble Hospital
West Silver Street
(413) 737-4718

WESTWOOD

Focusing on Our Children
Family Service of Norfolk County, Inc.
Westwood High School
(781) 326-0400

WORCESTER

Children Cope with Divorce
Jewish Family Service of Worcester
646 Salisbury Street
(508) 755-3101

www.jfsworcester.org

OR

Consider the Children
Divorce Education, Inc.
Relationship Institute
6 Melville Street
(508) 435-4745 or (508) 853-7373

OR

Parents Apart
University of Mass. Medical Center
55 Lake Avenue North
(508) 856-8600

OR

Parents Apart
Family Services of Central Mass.
31 Harvard Street
(508) 756-4646

www.fscm.org

Letter to Parents from The Probate and Family Court

Dear Parent:

The Court recognizes that divorce is a time of adjustment. Adapting to your new role as a separated parent or head of household is, at best, a tense and stressful time. At worst it is an overwhelming experience. Judges, lawyers, and others require you to address your child(ren)’s living arrangements, the distribution of your personal property, and financial arrangements for yourself, your spouse, and your child(ren). The legal procedures often overshadow the emotional considerations of loss, anger, guilt, and helplessness which also must be considered in the process. For many divorcing parents, confronting these issues leads to conflict. How these conflicts are resolved affect the adjustment of you and your family to the divorce.

The way you, as a parent, cope with the divorce can determine how your child copes with the changes. Ending your husband-wife relationship does not terminate your parent-child relationship, nor diminish your parental responsibilities. Both of you as parents need to continue to play a role in your child’s life. Your child needs to feel loved and accepted by both of you. When you cooperate and communicate in the role of parenting you reduce your child’s sense that he or she has been divided too.

The Court recognizes that a child’s best interest is very important to most parents. These parent education programs are designed to focus your attention on your child at a time when necessity and the legal process require you to focus on yourself. Time spent concentrating on the effect of divorce on your child is an investment in your child’s future.

The Probate and Family Court