Englishtown, NJ asked in Family Law and Juvenile Law for New Jersey

Q: Can I take my ex-wife to court for allowing my daughter to drop out of HS and not monitor the home school program?

I have Joint Custody of my 2 children, Daughter 17, Son 20 and Disabled. They both live with my ex-wife. The ex allows my daughter to do whatever she wants including not speak to me or complete the home school courses that I purchased for her. My daughter lies and says she does the work but the reports show otherwise. My daughter agreed to come to my house and do the work so I could monitor her and help if needed. She came twice and now refuses to answer my calls. My ex's response is that she will not force my daughter to do anything that makes her uncomfortable. My ex and I do not agree on the subject of education, or anything subject for that matter, and I fear that my daughter will not graduate from High School.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Richard Diamond
Richard Diamond
Answered
  • Millburn, NJ
  • Licensed in New Jersey

A: What I am hearing more than anything in your question is "frustration" that you feel that your daughter is making terrible decisions that will affect the rest of her life and you feel powerless to do anything about it since your daughter is not listening to you / returning your calls and your former wife appears to have given up on her as well. My sense is that if you filed an application with the court, your former wife would say that she tries to help your daughter with school and every time that she asks, your daughter tells her that she is doing the work or they have a fight over why your daughter is not doing the work. Right off the bat, it sounds like your daughter has poor study habits and gets frustrated or gets easily distracted (ie the cell phone next to her). It sounds like when you had your daughter with you, she sat and did her work, but now she does not want to take your calls, because she does not want you to lecture her about the need for study. Unfortunately, too many parents ( including those that are still married and living together) experience the same issue that you are currently experiencing. What most mental health experts will suggest is that you hire a tutor to work with your daughter 2-3 or ever 4 times a week every week to help her do her work. It may be expensive and you may feel that it is an unnecessary expense but its cheaper than the cost of an application to the court and directly benefits your daughter. I would reach out to your ex and calmly suggest that you want to immediately hire and pay for a tutor to help their daughter with her studies. Do not ask her for money towards it and do not ask her to find a tutor. You are the one who wants this in place and therefore you should be doing the heavy lifting to find the tutor. Tell your daughter that you understand that school is tough and that you are on her side and trying to help her graduate to have more options in life. Explain that the purpose of the tutor is to assist her doing her school work and that the tutor will work with her on her assignments. She needs to buy into the plan and needs to believe that this is the best option for her to complete the assignments. This is what I call the "baby step" approach to get a child to complete tasks and to recognize that they can do the assignments. You have only a few weeks left before the year ends so time is of the essence. If she is a junior in high school, then I would have her also work with the tutor through the summer 2 times per week to help prepare her for her senior year and keep the tutor in place for her senior year. Again, if your ex wants to contribute, great..... but if you make this about it being shared and pressing the issue, your ex will not support your plan and it will fail. Rank your priorities and if necessary, bite the bullet on the costs for your daughters sake.

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