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 in Buffalo and Pepin Counties. The program consists of a set of two-hour classes.  Parents have the option of attending the set of classes together or separately. Contact Mary Campbell Wood with any questions concerning the course at 608-685-6252 or write mary.campbellwood@wisc.edu

Upon registering, parents will be contacted to schedule dates and times for the classes.

How does A Better Beginning course work?

To satisfy the court order, parents must:

  1. Participate in both two-hour virtual classes. (Parents have the option of participating together or separately.)
  2. Do 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 is designed to help parents:

  • Develop a strong co-parenting relationship and parenting plan.
  • Manage difficult conversations and issues for better outcomes.
  • Work together for the best interests of their children.
  • Protect children from harmful and damaging effects of parental conflict, separation and divorce.
  • Recognize the ways and times that children feel responsible, distressed, or put “in the middle” of parent situations during and after divorce.
  • Gain 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.

How to register for A Better Beginning

It is the responsibility of each individual parent to register themselves. 

There is a $30.00 per parent registration fee. 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.


Note: A Better Beginning course is a set of two classes. Participants must attend both classes to meet court requirements.

A Better Beginning Instructor:

Mary Campbell Wood, Professor Human Development and Relationships, UW Madison Division of Extension Buffalo and Pepin Counties