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Could this be a good enough reason for Change of Circumstance?

I am not receiving School reports and after some years I have found out that the child has significant learning issues. The mother of my child has care during the week and is stated to be the resident parent on the parenting order.

The mother of my child has care during the week and is stated to be the resident parent on the parenting order.

My lawyer advised me that the parenting order should say the mother to provide us with school reports etc. Of course she didn't for years but assured me everything was fine.

She is stated as the resident parent although we have equal share of care. I tried to contact the school but they didn't reply to emails.

Turns out the child has a learning disability and the mother has been obstructing the school efforts to help the child.

A desperate teacher contacted me late last year behind the mothers back to tell me the truth.

Now I spend every weekend teaching reading and doing school work from last year.

The principal said as the non resident parent I have no rights to any information regarding the child.

I have grave concerns about future education and would like to change custody arrangement as well be noted as an equal resident parent.
What is the likelihood of this being accepted as a good enough reason for a change?

The mother also has a criminal conviction recently, although I don't know the exact nature of the conviction.

Last edit: by OneRingRules

When were the Orders made?

You need to look at the Rice & Asplund material on this site.

What changes are you proposing?

Orders were made 5 years ago and it has only been in the last 18 months that a learning disability has been diagnosed.

I have contact for half the time, but on weekends & school holidays.

The first piece of school work I saw was a year ago and I realised how bad things were. The child at 9 was almost illiterate. Straight away I took the  child to tutoring.

I have started looking through R&A but having trouble finding  cases relating to education.

I have asked the mother to change so I would look after school and she could have weekends with no change to CS but she has refused.

So at worst I would want to be included as resident parent so that I may have the same rights as the mother eg school reports and regular updates on progress etc and try to keep on top of his schooling that way.

At best I would like to have custody during the week to take over all aspects of schooling to maintain close contact so that his needs can be met. Either way tutoring will need to continue possibly all through school/high school.

The school has complained that the child misses remedial reading class being constantly late to school and misses whole terms of homework.Basically they said they tried everything but she just wont help (all unofficially of course).

The school is selectively cooperative with me and high school is not far away.
Do your court orders say anything about school reports? For instance, is the mother supposed to give you a copy?

Sometimes schools don't want the additional overhead. I find a personal chat with the principal, listing all the legal reasons why you should get copies of school reports, often works a treat. It may mean a day off work, but I think it would be productive. If your orders state "shared parental responsibility" there should be no problem with this.

While there may not be precedent in Rice and Asplund about returning to court, there are plenty of judgements that have final orders making very specific orders to accomodate a child's learning difficulty.

You may wish to consider having your son's difficulty privately assessed by someone. A speech pathologist would be a good way to go. Reading is a verbal task (oddly enough).

I'm not sure if there is enough to over come R&A, but my gut feel is that it would be looked well upon by court.

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
With regard to school reports for NSW, you should check out the policy document entitled "Family Law and the School" (Family Law and the School [currently the site is down]). The relevant section is Section 4, School reports, student photographs and other documentation.

4.2 Says, In the absence of a court order, each parent has equal rights in respect of their children.

4.4 Says, If the parent the student is not living with requests copies of school reports, they should be provided. Principals may but are not obligated to send the school reports until requested by that parent. If reports are sent to a non-residence parent, principals should ensure that address  details of the student are not included in any documentation sent.

4.5 Covers court orders that deny parental responsibility (i.e. parent denied has no right to school reports).

4.6 Covers other documents basically saying that other documents are treated as per 4.3 to 4.5.

4.7 Says that the principal may ask parents to contribute to the costs of forwarding school reports, stressing that such a contribution is purely voluntary.

For other states, where Federal Family Law Applies, then I guess basically the same should apply, however you should check this out.

where is your proof?


I notice that you say, "they help me unofficially".

What proof do you have of the situation you write about?

Perhaps you need to write to the principal of the school and ask how many days your child was late, about the homework situation and what has the school done to rectify the situation.

Also mention Mike T's section as to the entitlement to a school report.

Many teachers still think fathers have no or little rights when it comes to their kids.

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on the site (Look for the Avatars).   Be mindful what you post in the public areas. 
Nice work Mike T… I learn something new everyday.

CCC - I agree with Artemis. Not that I am an expert on these matters, but I reckon you may have a very good argument to put forward at Court providing you are armed with solid, documented corroborating evidence - and it sounds like you probably do.

You may even be able to have the matter dealt with on an expedited basis.

The Mother's criminal conviction (if true) may not count for much at the end of the day. I have read many judgements and criminal activity in general seems to carry less weight in determinations than what I had thought, or feared, they would. It may be significant that this happened since orders were made, if indeed that is the case. You need to find out what that is. If the matter progresses forward, Subpoena the Mother's police records. But I would not mention it until such time you have solid evidence and its probably incidental anyway. It may even detract from the primary consideration.

To be fair to you, and others reading this post, I need to disclose the fact that I myself have a 'criminal' record relating to centrelink payments which occurred in 2003, some many years before my daughter was born. You need to hold this in mind while factoring my opinions into your considerations.

The Mother is aggressively elevating this issue in my matter currently before the court and it will be interesting to see how that plays out.

Personally, I don't believe it counts for much and I don't believe it relates to either parenting capacity or ability. But I am happy to share with you my experiences if it helps you out. I'll keep you in the loop if you like. We are preparing for the LAT trial now and a hearing date has been set for August. You could learn first hand by sitting in on the trial. And I'd welcome any other SLR members along as well.

Interestingly, the Maternal Grandfather is a former Police Area Commander [the Shire] and her brother is serving Police Officer. The Mother tried to pin an AVO on me in 2005 which I contested and won. Those were interesting times!

The Court facility was a very hostile environment. The Maternal Grandfather new all the Magistrates, most of the Police Officers in attendance and was parading around like he owned the place!! He is still very closely aligned to the Police and involves himself in various social activities. At Court [AVO matters] the Mother argued that she felt intimidated and threatened by me! Yeah right. The Magistrate didn't buy it either.

Anyway, I digress…

I need a smoke… Damn! I'm out!

Thank you for great advice.

The parenting order states we are both responsible for day to day education & health.She is the resident parent .the mother will provide me with school reports and keep me advised of the child's progress.

I have received a couple school reports on the sly from teachers and 1 from the mother (possibly to avoid contravening orders). I have always attended parent teacher interviews (lateness & homework are always an issue).

The reports show as low average in most subjects - poor homework & always late. (No one fails officially at school any more.)

In The Basic skills the child required assistance and scored very low.A psych report states a definite learning disability. I have a speechie report confirming this also.

I could probably get expert witness reports saying what sort of future support will be needed.

I have a tutor report stating what work needs to be done.

I have met with the new principal recently and sent a letter but they have said I have to ask the mother's permission before they will tell me anything and lateness and absentee needs a subpoena.

I have a couple of emails from last years teacher saying what was missed. But not that the child failed the year as per her upset phone call.

I am having difficulty getting anything in writing now the heat is on. The principal "lost" my letter even though receptionist said they had it. (I am trying to figure out how much of this is the schools responsibility also.) In a meeting the teachers it was said the child is not going to do reading group this year because of the chronic lateness. When I wrote for an explanation the principal said still assessing who will be in the group.

So so far I don't have a lot of proof re mother except an email from teacher and the missed work until I subpoena. I have plenty to say there is a learning problem and the steps I have taken to help.

As a non-government school does that doc re school reports apply?

(I'm not sure where this goes.)

The other issue is that as the mother is the "legal guardian" I have never received an invoice for school fees. I found one in the school bag a little while ago and it was for thousands (not a government school). My concern is now that when school is finished the mother who is less than moral will say I can't pay go after the father.

I didn't enrol the child. I have never signed anything and I apparently have no rights.

The child was reading at 1st grade level before my intervention but I don't think a debt collector will see it that way. Is there any advice on that one? There is nothing in the parenting order about school fees but she wrote affidavit pre orders saying she pays fees.the school have not approached me at all because in their eyes I am not the legal guardian. So is this a debt I am liable for?

4my daughter I am interested. Did you do any community service?

Yes, I did 150 hours of community service. I learnt several lessons from that experience. One being not to use a Conveyancing lawyer in such matters. I did not declare my earnings. By the time I went to court I had paid the money back. It is something that I should have not have done and regret it. I was facing bankruptcy and made a bad choice at the time. I didn't know where by next meal was coming from. This whole thing happened after the NASDAQ crash and I found myself unemployed for 6 months.

Before my matter has heard, I sat in on preceding cases for similar offences which involved Centrelink payments. In one instance a couple with children had created several false identities to elicit monies from Centrelink and they had been charged and sentenced twice previously for the same offence.

They got off with a bond because the Mother was pregnant, they had kids and the family looked to be in desperate circumstances. I copped 150 hours which was huge (as I was informed by the Boy's on detail who had copped lighter sentences for drug dealing) and I was advised not to appeal (lest I end up with more).

So as I said, the Mother and her lawyer are pursuing this issue aggressively.

My strategy from the start has been to be honest and upfront, and I have disclosed this and other issues (past recreational drug use) to Her Honour on Day 1. I figure that by doing this it will limit the issues to be covered in the trial so it will leave space for the issues I want to highlight and which I feel relate more to parenting capacity and ability. What would be the point of discussing issues [at any length at least] at trial that have already been admitted as fact? (…your honour). It would be a waste of the courts time and resources. (…at this point Her Honour declares: 'Put that man in irons and cast away the key! Has anyone got a tomato or rotten cabbage we can throw at ghastly man?')

The Mothers strategy so far has been to chew up the available (precious) court time during preliminary  hearings thereby reducing the amount of time I have to put forward more relevant issues regarding parenting and contact matters which she is currently in contravention of. It also distracts the courts attention (…'a red herring Your Honour').

Her focus on this issue may ultimately back fire on her, as she knew all this before we lived together with our daughter. So her actions and concerns conflict (…the defence..'but look at him, Your Honour. He's so cute?').

In your case, introducing the Mother's criminal issue into your matter may detract from the issues surrounding your child's education - which may be a delicate procedure as it is. On the other hand, it may create synergy. Its all about how you go about presenting your case. Its all about strategy and focus (as Verdad keeps pressing … and yes, I am working on my case outline if you are reading this).

Once again, this is only my opinion and I have only limited experience. I'd be interested to get feedback from anyone, as I may need a sense check myself. Verdad has been most helpful so far and we have spent many hours together down at the Family Court sitting in on cases. Its an education. Provides some entertainment value as well. Highly recommend it. Since 'Judge Deed' finished I have felt a void. Surprised I still have a job!

CCC, there have been other posts on the site (possibly in the SRL section) going into extensive detail about school reports.

Persist with the school. Schools are wary at the moment because there are several court cases where parents are suing because their children are basically illiterate, due to learning disorders not being identified.

The mother is contravening court orders. You need to bring this and the shared responsibility to the schools attention, by a copy of the court order. I would even mention paying to have the reports copied, if that is an issue, or paying for postage.

If you decide to mention the mother's recent criminal activity, I would do it as an aside. Unless there is bearing on the attention she is giving the child, there is little point. Prostitutes get to retain "lives with" status of their children, so if she's been caught shoplifting or something, I doubt there would be little gain. It's just a concern. Treat it as such and move on. In the lead up, you can send what's called a Notice to Admit fact, which can be useful in limiting the amount of subpoenas required. Joining the SRLs (if you haven't applied already) can yield some help with this.

4mydaughter, thank you for being so frank about your misdemeanours. Your experience should prove beneficial to others. The important thing for you now is to continue to walk the straight and narrow and be squeeky clean. Past is often seen as an indicator of the future.

You are taking the best path, be open and honest and genuinely contrite about your actions and move on.

If you are the applicant in the case, I would suggest in your first discussion with the FM, that you outline the ground you wish to cover. This may see the ex being told to wrap it up, when the FM knows how much she needs to get through.

It's important to remember FMs are human too. Our solicitor told us of one instance where the solicitor thought he had a slam dunk - mum was a drinker who'd had an accident with the child in the car. He made a big deal of it, but he didn't realise that the FM had been booked in the past for DUI, lol. Another example was the big deal made about drug use - turned out the FM had experimented in Bali when the and the opposing solicitor were uni students. So, you never know what human stories there are behind the bench.

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
Artemis. Squeeky as a squeeky does!

I know one Judge [name deleted out of respect for this site] who looks like a she may be into B&D

Hey… you better keep us on topic because my sense of humour already got me kick out of one forum this morning.

You would be surprised at some of the black humour that goes on behind the scenes with some of the execs. But that's the best place for it.

Stay squeeky  :cool:

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
Thank you for the advice. I will keep pressing the school I am not sure how responsible I hold them yet until I do the subpoenas.

Would anyone know where I stand re fees? If the mother wrote an affidavit saying she will pay school fees but it isn't stated in parenting orders. Can a debt collector come after me for the full amount as the other parent?

My ex has done everything she can to get money out of me and tried to convince me my child hates me, at the same time she knowingly obstructed his education. (I think she is a sociopath to be honest.)

I know it sounds bad. that I don't want to pay school fees, and I haven't been asked for fees from the school yet, but my feeling is that as soon as the school realises that I am also a legal guardian that I will be hit for the total fees.

She has done this on previous joint purchases when we split up. If I didn't pay the full amount my credit rating would be bad, she didn't care. (I am now supporting a second family so a few grand is a lot of money.)

I would want the matter of school fees addressed in a change of circumstances as an aside. Or is the affidavit enough, so I don't have to pay?
From what you say it would be unlikely you will have to pay fees.

You did not enroll the child together. She has stated in an affidavit that private education is her wish. The debt is hers.

If you feel the child is benefiting from school you can agree to pay the fees to the mother in lieu of child support.

With regard to your ex and her personality, I have posted elsewhere on the site about my research into personality disorders and my personal conviction that they are what leads to intractable disputes that must be resolved by court. I would like to see more recognition of this (it is recognised by mediators) and expediting these particular matters through court.

There is no ground to be made legally by determining if your ex has a mental problem, but it can help you understand and predict her reactions.

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
I did look into paying fees as a prescribed payment but the rules are changing in July so that if you have the child I think for more than 15% you cant do that any more without the other parents consent.

And I'm sure the mother wouldn't consent to that.

The child just doesn't get why we have to spend weekends doing homework and reading practice I really worry about the child's future.

My greatest concern is going through all the change and cost and the child turns 14 and decides that mums life of not doing much is far more attractive.

thanks for the great advice I will now digest it and figure out my next move.
CCC said
I have received a couple school reports on the sly from teachers and 1 from the mother (possibly to avoid contravening orders).
CCC said
lateness and absentee needs a subpoena.

Have another look at the reports.

My children's reports from two different schools always comment on punctuality and include the exact number of days absent.

You might get lucky without a subpoena!


You are entitled to copies of school reports provided there is no court order against this. Check out the Department of Education policy on this - Section 12 (partial below). The mother has no say about it. I don't think the school has a right to refuse either. Go to the regional boss if you have refusal by principal.

12.1 In many instances parents who have separated will both seek to play an active part in the education of their children. Sometimes a parent will not agree that the other parent has a right to receive information about their children's education.

12.2 In the absence of a court order, each parent has equal obligations, duties and responsibilities in respect of their children. To fulfil those obligations, duties and responsibilities, it is reasonable that each parent is able to access relevant information that may issue from a school concerning their children's education.

12.3 Where the parents have separated and the children live with one parent, by virtue of a court order or otherwise, school documentation should be forwarded to the parent with whom the child is living.

12.4 If a request for a copy of school documentation is made by the non-residential parent, copies of the material should be provided unless there are orders that deny the non-residential parent any parental responsibility for the child.

Principals should ensure that any material sent to non-residential parents does not include any address or other contact details of the other parent. Refer also to paragraph 10.2 regarding specific requirements in relation to enrolment documentation.
Secretary SPCA said
There is a comprehensive range of commentary about school policies on the FLRA Community site. Thanks to Guest for this post.

It should be noted also that each state has particular guidelines and each is different. I do know there has been correspondence between FLRA and the previous Federal Minister of Education in relation to making a common Australian wide education policy around. Coral Slattery is dealing with this issue.

Private schools are often significantly more accommodating than the public school system.
The parenting order states the mother is the resident parent, both are responsible for day to day of health & education , that the mother will provide school reports and keep me advised of school progress or words to that effect.

Whether or not that can be interpreted to say that I agreed to give up my right to the child's school reports and only the mother will give me access may be the case.

There was no reason for it, my lawyer wrote it and I didn't realise what a mistake it was.

My other issue is it is a non government school so I have to find out how it all works. I think I will need to become a member to get more assistance from the SRL.
I think that's a good idea CCC.

It may well become a little grayer in private institutes although this may well mean that they just need more pressure applied and in different ways.

Although orders are specific they are still up to perception.

Yes she is expected to deliver as per court orders and yes it is a minor breach, but personally I would be of the opinion that it would not stop me interacting with the school to request them to send reports etc if I also so desired, the orders are a directive to the X not the school, they have their own governing body and it may be worth while determining via the education department what laws and rules cover all educators and not specifically government educators.

There may be a base set of rules or laws that cover private education.

The more you know the better equipped you are.

Just an observation mind.

Applying Pressure

A successful strategy in the past with Private Schools has been to present the Principal of the NSW Schools Policy on reports. I know of a couple of situations where the Principals of Private Schools changed their position after the Policy was shown to them.

For more accurate information of your options it would be best to join SRL-R and be able to discuss the specifics.

For me - Shared Parenting is a Reality - Maybe it can be for you too!
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