Session Law 1999-237 House Bill 168 Section 17.16 authorizes the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts (NCAOC) to establish an educational program for parents who are parties to a custody or visitation action and to administer any parent education though family court programs that were established by Section 25 of Session Law 1998-202.
Parent education programs educate and sensitize divorcing parents or parents living in separate homes about the needs of their children during and after the divorce process and when children are parented in separate homes. The video entitled Mending Hearts (available in English and Spanish) provides guidance for parents from professionals as well as from the child's perspective.
Family court districts provide this type of education locally as described by their local rules. The two most common models for parent education are:
- A one-hour parent information session presented by family court staff; and
- A four-hour parent education class taught by local professionals from the community who have contracted with the NCAOC to provide this service.
Both education models provide "an opportunity for parents and other caregivers involved in a custody lawsuit to learn about the court process and align their motivation and resources for resolving their dispute with the court's mandate to make decisions that are in the best interest of the child(ren)." [2009 Annual Report on NC's Unified Family Court Programs, Page 9]
Non-family court district courts may offer parent education according to their own local rules.