How to deal with an ex who is a poor parent

divorce attorney Jill DuffyQuestion:

I share joint physical custody of my son with my ex-wife. While with his mom, my son’s school performance goes drastically downhill – homework not handed in, she doesn’t help him with anything, repeated tardiness, etc.

I have suggested a modification to the visitation schedule to work with her schedule without affecting her child support, but that has been turned down.

Are there options available to try and get her to be a better, more active parent in our son’s life?


The Michigan Friend of the Court does have informal dispute resolution processes. You should contact the Friend of the Court in the county in which you live to determine if they have services that will be of value to you.

However, the Friend of the Court cannot make your former spouse be a better parent. If what she is doing does not place your son in harm, or is not neglectful, they cannot force her to parent the way that you think is best.

If you really want to seek a drastic change, you can petition the court for a change in parenting time. Before doing this you should document your former spouse’s behavior and how it is affecting your son.

Gather records from his school, counselor and doctor that show that her behavior during parenting is negatively affecting your son. You can use this evidence to bolster the fact that it would be in your son’s best interests to have more parenting time with you.

In the meantime, you should step up and become Super Dad. Do anything and everything you can do to ensure that your son is getting the best care and education possible.

Going above and beyond what the court is requiring you to do, even if it means cleaning up her messes, will establish a pattern of behavior that will make it easier for the court to want to grant your motion to change parenting time.

Although I practice law in Michigan, I cannot give you legal advice without thoroughly reviewing your case. Do not rely on this information as establishing an attorney-client relationship. Contact an attorney immediately for assistance. Cordell & Cordell does represent clients in Michigan. Thank you for submitting your question.


Jill A. Duffy is an Associate Attorney in the Troy, Mich., office of Cordell & Cordell. She is licensed to practice in the state of Michigan. Ms. Duffy received her BA in Psychology and Spanish and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Oakland University. She received her Juris Doctor from Michigan State University College of Law and graduated Magna Cum Laude.

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