A Better Beginning for Separating and Divorcing Families

This program fulfills the Wisconsin Supreme Court Statute 767.115 educational requirement and the local family court order.

About A Better Beginning

This UW-Madison Division of Extension educational program for separating and divorcing families is court-ordered for all parents of minor children AND their minor children, ages six through sixteen.  The program consists of a set of two-hour classes held at the Buffalo County Courthouse in Alma, WI, which parents and their children attend.  Parents have the option of attending the class together or separately.  In the event that one of the parents is unable to attend the scheduled classes, they can request to schedule an alternative date and time by contacting Mary Wood at 608-685-6256 or write mary.campbellwood@wisc.edu

Scheduled class dates and times are listed below.

How does A Better Beginning work?

To satisfy the court order, parents must:

  1. Participate in both two-hour classes.
  2. Do homework assignments.
  3. Make sure their children, ages 6 through 16, participate in both sessions and complete their homework assignments.

Upon completion of the course, each parent will receive a certificate of completion, and notice of completion will be filed with the Clerk of Court.

Will A Better Beginning help our family?

YES! Research, long-term studies and program participant feedback show that families who receive quality support and learn new skills during separation and divorce fare much better in many areas of life than those who don’t.

This program helps parents to:

  • Develop a strong co-parenting relationship and a quality co-parenting plan.
  • Improve communication with one another and their children.
  • Manage difficult conversations successfully.
  • Work together for the best interests of their children.
  • Protect their children from the harmful effects of the divorce process.
  • Recognize the ways and times that children feel responsible, distressed, or put “in the middle” of parent situations during and after divorce.
  • Learn and use important skills for stress management and support, positive communication, problem-solving and conflict.
  • Navigate the grieving and healing process, and help their children through grief and healing.
  • Strengthen positive parenting strategies.

This program helps children to:

  • Communicate their needs and concerns with parents.
  • Use positive coping strategies and a support network.
  • Understand that their parent’s divorce is not their fault.
  • Adjust to the many changes that accompany divorce.
  • Feel more secure, and less worried and stressed in the midst of the divorce process.

How to register for A Better Beginning

It is the responsibility of each individual parent to register themselves and their child(ren).  There is a $30.00 per parent registration fee. There is no charge for children.

If financial help is needed, scholarships are available. You may make a confidential request for a scholarship via your online registration form.

To reserve a place in the classes, parents need to complete and submit the registration online at A Better Beginning Registration Form as well as send the $30 per parent registration fee to the Buffalo County UW-Madison Division of Extension Office. Participants are not registered and will not receive a confirmation email with important class instructions until payment is received.

 2020 A Better Beginning Class Dates

Note: A Better Beginning sessions are two-part classes, must attend both classes to meet court requirements.

All classes will be conducted at either the Buffalo County Courthouse or the Pepin County Government Center.

Wednesdays, March 4 & 11, 2020 6:00-8:00pm

Wednesdays, May 6 & 13, 2020  6:00-8:00pm

Wednesdays, July 8 & 15, 2020  6:00-8:00pm

Online classes  will be scheduled for the remainder of 2020.  Information will be available at time of registration.

A Better Beginning Instructors:

Mary Wood, Human Development and Relationships Professor

Annie Lisowski, Division of Extension Buffalo County Youth Development Professor

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