Share children’s grades and unify system of rewards and punishments
Do you know your child’s grades in reading, mathematics and other subjects? Does your ex-spouse know? If you’re not aware of your child’s current level of scholastic achievement, or if you’re not sharing information with another parent, you may be harming your chances for custody and/or visitation rights.
Ask the mother in McCoy vs. McCoy, a 2004 child custody case in Michigan. In that case, the father, who had custody, would not let the mother see the child’s report card, and the mother had to go to the school to get a copy of it. She soon learned that the child had 22 absences and had failing grades. She quickly moved for a change in custody.
Or ask the father in Gault vs. Gault, a 2006 case out of Alaska. In Gault, the judge transferred custody of the boy (now 8 years old) to his father after the boy’s grades slipped dramatically. The father convinced the court that he could oversee the child’s educational needs better than the mother.
To avoid these kinds of custody motions, it is best for parents to share report cards and to provide timely information to each other about the child’s grades and academic progress. Students who do well in school should be rewarded – in both parents’ households – while students who do poorly should be jointly disciplined or counseled to make improvements. If only one parent reacts to the child’s grades, that parent may be seen by the court as having the greater level of concern about the child’s educational best interests.
By developing a uniform system of rewards and punishments, even divorced and separated parents can stress the importance of academic achievement. In fact, a parent who cooperates by sharing information with the other parent, and coordinating how the two of them will respond to the child’s performance level is likely to be favored as showing leadership in the area of academic achievement.