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Am I doing the right thing?

Six years ago l left my abusive husband with the clothes on my back and our eight year old daughter whilst our 13 year old son stayed with his father. The father insisted on this arrangement because if we both had one child he would not have to pay any child support. Before I was able to leave the family home I signed the legal documents supporting this arrangement as both of the children were happy with the decision.  What I did not realise at the time were the words 'live with' meant custody.  So after one year of living with his father my son came to live with me however as the father had legal custody I could not claim child support. The father owns his own business and in the last six years has paid a grand total of $3300 in child support.

About three years ago after some discussion our daughter (who I have 100% custody) asked to have a week on week off arrangement to which I again supported as it was her wishes, however things are not going well.  Her year 8 school grades slipped and again in year 9, homework is never done and her father spends most of his time at his workshop or the local bowls club leaving his partner to supervise our daughter.  She is now in year 10 and loves being at her dads as she is left unsupervised and basically gets what ever daddy's little princess wants.  To add to this our daughter is very unorganised, leaving school uniforms and other needed articles at the wrong house or she brings home a case full of dirty clothes for me to wash.

Am I being unreasonable to want my daughter home on all school nights leaving her free to visit with her father on any or all weekends and school holidays?
Do I have to have his agreement to put these changes in place when I have a court order stating she is to live with me and visit with her father on special occasions?

My major concern is her education I am resigned to the fact I will never see any moral or monatairy support from the father and his objections to this arrangement is that she may spend more time with me therefore I will have the potential for a CSA case - this is not my objective - my objective is to get our daughter trough high school.
I think if you do some research, regardless of any orders, if your son came to live with you then you could have claimed child support at the time for your son as well as your daughter and for time you only had your daughter. Even with 50/50 care child support is still payable if incomes are different.

It's sad that your daughter's education has gone bad. Have you talked to her teachers about how much can be salvaged in year 10?

Have you discussed with your daughter what she wishes to achieve or do after high school?

How did your son go? What has he ended up doing? Perhaps he can help his sis?

There is also another issue with your daughter being of the age where she can choose who she wants to live with. You and father (including the court) can't make her do anything. She can even leave home and claim Centrelink benefits if she likes.

I don't think you are being unreasonable with what you want for your daughter.

I suggest you try to patch up your relationship with the father enough see if together with her teachers you both can get her on track with something.

Failing that I think you should just work on having the best relationship you can with your daughter. It will come in very handy when she is in a bind and needs your help. She may see you in the near future as the parent that was trying to look out for her.

Good luck and don't be disappointed if she does not do as well as you want in school.
Thank you for your feedback Fairgo it's great to have a stranger tell me I am not being unreasonable.  

My very focused son is at university studying engineering and I have always known my airy fairy daughter will not attend university however I did want her to complete her senior years at high school but with her current grades the school will more than likely advise her to leave at the end of year 10 as year 11 will be a world of pain for her.  

So my fall back option is to encourage her into working towards a hair dressing apprenticeship as she would obtain a trade and it would suit her airy fairy nature. Oh and if you count the amount of hours she already spends in front of the mirror doing her hair as any indication of her interest  in hair dressing I would say she will be a master tradie by the time she is 20.

Sorry that was getting a little off the subject but it does in some way help explain the other little problem I have which is she cannot make up her mind on what she wants to do in regards to living arrangements.  Because she loves us both she wants to please us both so she will tell one parent one thing and the other another.  It was never my intention to place any pressure on our children but it has worked out this way as I have in the past always agreed with the children's wishes now however I don't.  

My parents are in their 70's and still married after 52 years and 11 children (they need a gold medal each) and I contribute this to never arguing about the children and dad's favorite saying 'mother knows best' I think in my situation this is the case.  

I just want my daughter to finish her schooling with some degree of success not failure, I do not want my ex's money or restrict access at any other time but school days.  This is in order for me to schedule time for homework and tutoring commitments I wish for the support of her father and pray for the support of the courts.

Why don't you try to resolve the matter through Family Dispute Resolution? Get him into an environment were he is compelled to talk this issue through with you.

You'd need a section 60I certificate to apply to the court anyway.

Worth trying that approach. Nothing to lose.

We all want the best for our kids. Some of us want them to follow specific careers etc… but if you talk to teachers, they will tell you that they also have the same problems with their kids so don't stress about it. The hairdressing Apprenticeships sounds like a great plan. Your son will have an engineering degree but he will still ask sis to cut his hair. This sort of career will enable her to open her own business which could lead to anything good. She will also have dad on side hopefully assisting her in business as well yourself.

Remember she is not necessarily failing at her education. It's probably the education failing her.
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