The COPE Class

Unless excused by the court, parents in Clark County Nevada have 45 days after the filing of a divorce complaint to attend a mandatory COPE (“Helping Children Cope with Divorce”) class.

The class itself costs $40, lasts for about 3 hours, and is usually held at a public library. See Palo Verde Child and Family Services Inc. for more information. You can pre-register or walk in. They take cash or money order and you will need a photo ID to confirm your identity. At the end of the course you will receive a certificate of completion that you can show the court as evidence of completion.

Topics include: 


  • How families experience divorce
  • Typical reactions of children
  • Developmental needs of children
  • Skills that help children cope
  • Pitfalls to avoid

In my experience, the seminar gave some nice information on the psychological reactions of children to divorce (at different ages ranging from toddlers to teenagers) and how parents must work together to mitigate the negative effects of divorce.

I specifically pressed the presenter on how to deal with an ex-spouse with borderline personality disorder who is intent on alienating the other parent. Her response was that unless the other parent sees the “big picture” that working together is in the best interest of the child then there is little that can be done. The presenter had no strategies on how to counter parental alienation tactics.

Unfortunately, until the courts start to see parental alientation as a form a child abuse and shared parenting as the norm, children will continue to be psychologically harmed by divorce.




9 Responses to The COPE Class

  1. jp says:

    My brother is involved in a divorce from a woman we suspect has BPD or is a sociopath. They were court-ordered into a COPE class in Ohio without the court considering my brother’s claims that his wife is incapable of anything but hatred toward him and is incapable of looking at him or speaking to him. They were required to attend counseling which the wife refused to attend after two sessions because the counselor was on to her, they were required to go to COPE. She later convinced the guardian ad litem that they just couldn’t communicate, so she ended up as custodial parent, with the father getting the child almost 1/2 of the time. Now the child, who is four, says he’s been home alone at his mother’s on at least two occassions. The second time his mother brought a toy home so he wouldn’t tell his Daddy. The child is also having nightmares about his father being shot and killed. I could go on and on about the mother’s neglect, emotional abuse, violent rages, parental alientation tatics, but you’ve got the idea.

    These programs may be of use to people who have marriages that fail for the usual reasons, but are totally ineffective when mental illness and emotional abuse are the primary reasons for the split. Furthermore, they give a false impression to the court that the parties dealing with personality disorders now know how to deal with one another — when nothing could be further from the truth. COPE teaches you how to deal with someone who is sane, not insane.

  2. Sid says:

    My wife has BPD, and it seems we are getting a divorce.

    I’ve been reading about BPD and other symptoms she has had – as well as caretaker coping skills etc. – for over a year, the length of our being together.

    The are two important points:

    1. The person with BPD is originally a victim … of her parents.

    2. There are treatments, whether it is dialectical CT, schema, even self-help with mindfulness

    In our case, we made what seemed to me very quick improvement after about a year of trying to figure out what was going on.

    The improvement lasted about two months. This was an amazing time. It was caused by a suicide threat that was quickly addressed through Toronto’s Centre for Mental Health, who changed the drugs she was taking, and the psychiatrist helped her with another drug for sleep.

    Once she slept well, she was ‘herself’ when she woke up.

    Things did not continue that well, however, because we could not confide in the therapists, who were not given a clear picture of the extent of her condition. We were in the process of asking about the legal consequences of some of her actions, especially desperate stabbing attempts, a reaction to her fear that I would leave her.

    I’m sad to say that the time lost in thinking about the legality of it all as well as finding out what was wrong in the first place resulted in a huge regression. I unfortunately no longer have the time, stamina, nor even money (huge debts in just one year) to continue.

    Though I can no longer carry the burden of being her spouse, I can honestly say that she tried very, very hard to get help.

    The inconsistencies in seeking help were part of the BPD.

    But the greatest harm was from her parents’ continued interfering, controlling, and emotional blackmail.

    Now she is back with them, and our 1-year old son is with them in a country whose family laws give the mother sole custody till the age of 7.

    Of course I am worried about my son, but (a) she is very good with him and (b) I cannot think of taking that away from her.

    I just want to try to lessen the impact of the actual divorce moment, when she gets the papers.

    Your thoughts on all of this.

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  5. robert homan says:

    i think after taking the class that any normal person should already know this stuff & it was a wast of 40 dollars … some one found a way to let the courts make them money … wast of time …

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