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Does your ex have a homework-free policy?

When your child hands you yet another note from the school, you know without even opening it what it contains. Jane has not been doing all her homework assignments again, and the slacking off occurs on school nights when your ex has parenting time with her.

You’ve talked to him about this already, and he’s made his stance on the matter of homework clear. He thinks it’s a waste of time that is better spent going shopping, enjoying Netflix marathons, and in general making the most of their visitation time together.

It’s true recent years, the value of homework assignments has been called into question. In 2015, P.S. 116 in New York City announced that it would stop giving its students homework. In a letter to parents, the principal explained that time outside of school would be better spent reading and playing, and that there was no proven connection between homework and academic achievement. However, Jane’s school DOES require it to be done and delivered on time.

Your ex’s attitude is clearly affecting your daughter’s academic performance. What can you do?

The law and homework

What is the connection between New York family law and seeing to it that a child finishes their homework? Statute-wise, there isn’t any. That doesn’t mean that you are without options in this particular situation, however.

As parents, both you and your former spouse have a duty to act in your child’s best interests. When a noncustodial parent has overnight parenting time during the week, they have the same obligation that the custodial parent does when it comes to getting the child ready for school the next day. This can mean ensuring that homework and other school assignments are completed on time, especially if failure to do so can harm the child’s academic performance and development.

What’s the motive?

How you proceed should depend on the reason why your ex does not make your daughter do her homework or study for tests on his watch. If he simply doesn’t believe in the value of doing either, meet with your child’s teachers and ask them to advise you when homework or special projects are due the morning after your ex has parenting time. Let both your former spouse and your child know that you will be checking in via phone or email solely for the purpose of tracking progress.

It’s a more challenging situation when your ex is imposing a ‘homework holiday’ simply to flout your authority. While a noncustodial parent’s failure to make their kids do schoolwork does not automatically call for a change in a visitation arrangement, doing so to undermine the custodial parent is a different matter.

If you suspect the latter, contact a New York family law attorney who can help you raise your concerns to a family court judge. When the actions of a noncustodial parent have the potential to negatively affect your child’s best interests, you should -indeed, you have a duty to act. Jayson Lutzky is an experienced Bronx family law attorney who has helped many clients over the past 34 years obtain divorce and obtain quality legal representation in family court. If you have any questions about family court case–now or old–call 718-329-9500 to set up a free in-office initial consultation. Saturday appointments are available. Visit www.MyNewYorkCityLawyer.com to learn more.

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