Non-custodial parents have a right to see their children’s grades:

“The court concludes the following: (a) an order requiring a student to produce proof of college attendance, course credits and grades as a condition for ongoing child support and college contribution does not violate the student’s rights to privacy under FERPA; (b) both the student and the custodial parent each have a responsibility and obligation to make certain that the non-custodial parent is provided with ongoing proof of the student’s college enrollment, course credits and grades.”

This strikes me as something that should be relatively uncontroversial, though it does strike me as more complicated than the more traditional scenario. My parents didn’t have the right to see my grades, but they were free to stop paying for college if I did not provide them. The question lies, I would guess, in the child support arrangement that the father has with the kid. I know that in some cases, as with my childhood best friend Clint, the arrangement specified his father’s obligations towards paying for college. So it seems to me that as long as Clint was able to prove that he was attending, his father might look at the F’s and get angry, but there wouldn’t be a whole lot that he could do about it.

I’m not sure the degree to which that is true for this case. On the one hand, it seems that there must have been some concrete obligations for him to have to go to court to see the grades. On the other hand, the ruling suggests that if the father wanted to pull his support on the basis of his daughter’s grades (as opposed to attendance or enrollment), he would have the right to do so. Otherwise, why would she need to provide more than the enrollment paperwork? The only thing I can think of is so that he can go back to court and get out of the arrangement on the basis that the daughter is not attending school in good faith.

UPDATE: Brandon Berg pointed out that the actual decision was linked to on the page. I probably saw it, but whenever I see a link to the entire decision I assume that it’s going to be really long or in a language I do not understand. It’s actually pretty straightforward. The issue is, if the daughter is not taking and passing a full courseload, he doesn’t have to pay because she can effectively become emancipated and he can be off the hook. So what’s probably happening is that the daughter failed one or more of her courses and she and the mother don’t want to lose the financial support.

Category: Courthouse

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6 Responses to The Right To See a Grade

  1. Brandon Berg says:

    The only thing I can think of is so that he can go back to court and get out of the arrangement on the basis that the daughter is not attending school in good faith.

    That’s pretty much it. There’s a link to the full text of the opinion at the bottom. It explains the situation in detail.

  2. Mike Hunt says:

    In Jay Leno’s autobiography he tells the story about his first semester of college, and showing his father his grade report. What does the father do? He signs it so Jay can bring it back to school…

  3. web says:

    After looking through in detail, this is the courts “making the best” of a bad deal all around.

    According to the actual ruling, the original divorce decree gave “joint custody” with the mother being “parent of primary residence.” The not-mentioned, but probably underlying, problem here is that it was probably an acrimonious divorce in which the daughter is more-or-less completely estranged from her father (circumstances, again, we don’t know about – cause of divorce, possible “divorce poison“, etc).

    As for the rest… Dad suspects the “college enrollment” is a sham. Or that his daughter is not taking college seriously. Ideally, he’d be able to talk with the daughter directly – again, a reason I suspect that the divorce left him with no relationship with his daughter, something I find sad in itself.

  4. trumwill says:

    My reading was not all that different from yours, Web, though it’s also quite possible that the father is simply an ass who is searching for any grounds with which to terminate his financial obligations. “She got a D in psych! She’s not serious! Emancipate!” We really don’t know.

  5. Mike Hunt says:

    She got a D in psych! She’s not serious!

    Getting a D in Psych 101 is prima facie evidence that one is not serious about her school work… 😛

    The ultimate irony about this, and about any support case that springs from the parents not being married to each other is that if the parents were still married to each other, they wouldn’t have any legal obligation to contribute anything toward college. After all, the report you get after you fill out the FAFSA is called the EXPECTED family contribution, not the REQUIRED family contribution.

  6. frdstuart says:

    After reading the full case, it appears the ex wife will not comply with the dads request to see the report card and verfiy she is school FT. His obligation for paying child support , medical, college costs, etc. for the 22 yr. old is based upon her being a full time student. The ex wife defied the court order 3 times, was ordered by the judge to provide documentation and didn’t. Seems like parental alienation is at play here based upon a bitter ex wife. The daughter is an adult, NJ has no age limit for child support, isn’t it called child support, not adult support?

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