Clerk of District court

Clerk of District Court

Children First

By order of the Judges of the First Judicial District for all dissolution or parenting plan filings after April 1, 2003

Dissolution actions and parenting plan negotiations are processes that have many legal and emotional dimensions. Even though this is primarily a legal process, emotions become mixed in and decisions have to involve both the law and the heart. Consequently, it is often difficult to determine the real issues in the proceeding.

The issue of parenting rights and responsibilities further intensifies emotional issues for many couples. In fact, the emotional stakes can easily overshadow all other concerns. The prospect of losing even a part of one's relationship with a child often produces deep feelings of fear and anguish. Confusion about the parent-child relationship can result in intense anxiety, as can the prospect of having to maintain a cooperative relationship with the ex-spouse for years to come. However, one issue is not up for debate, it is not the child's fault that parents are separating. All persons involved in dissolution actions or parenting plan negotiations are governed by the same rule of law: "the child's best interest."

Therefore, the Court has adopted a new mandatory educational program for all parents with minor children in all original dissolution actions and all actions that have to do with parenting plans. The new rules are as follows:

  • Either the Petitioner or the Petitioner's counsel will prepare a copy of the attached Order and Parenting Plan Orientation overview for  service on Respondent and will also provide a copy of the same to their client.
  • Classes will be held once a month, on the second Thursday beginning at 4:00 p.m. Parties are responsible for attending this class in the month following their filing. (i.e.--file in April, attend the orientation in May)
  • A District Court Judge will preside over the orientation. The program will last approximately two hours following the format set forth in the Parenting Plan Orientation Overview and the Children First PowerPoint