Parents have a right to see report card


“A divorced parent funding a child’s college education can demand the student’s academic records as a condition of payment, a state court judge says in a case of first impression. A court order requiring an adult, unemancipated student to show proof of college attendance, credits and grades as a condition does not violate the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, Ocean County Superior Court Judge Lawrence Jones ruled in a case approved for publication on April 15. “A child who demands financial contribution from her parents logically has a reciprocal obligation to provide basic information concerning college attendance and performance,” Jones wrote in Van Brunt v. Van Brunt, FM-15-091-08. He called the situation “wholly unacceptable and violative” of the rights of the father who was obligated to pay college expenses.” (N.J. Law Journal Summary)

The Court’s holding:

“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.”

The Court ordered, “in summary:

a.    Melissa has an obligation to provide documentation of her college attendance and performance to her parents if she wishes to remain unemancipated.
b.    Plaintiff has a direct, affirmative ongoing obligation to obtain the documented information from Melissa and to forward same to defendant within the time period set forth under prior court order. The court will not accept plaintiff’s position that she cannot obtain this information from Melissa as a defense. If plaintiff truly cannot obtain such information from Melissa, then plaintiff shall have the obligation to expressly notify so that he can file a motion for emancipation.
c.    So long as Melissa remains unemancipated, plaintiff shall provide defendant within thirty days after the start of each college semester with documented verification of the courses which Melissa is taking and the number of credits per course. Additionally, plaintiff shall provide defendant, within thirty days of the conclusion of each semester, a copy of Melissa’s report card.
Should plaintiff and Melissa fail to comply, defendant may file a new application for Melissa’s emancipation.”

Complete opinion VanBrunt-v-VanBrunt

[Image courtesy of Photobucket]


About Lawrence "Larry" Berezin

I retired from the private practice of law after a 35-year legal career and fight parking tickets for people like you and me. I love sharing valuable information and beating NYC parking tickets for the driving community in NYC


  1. “A child who demands financial contribution from her parents logically has a reciprocal obligation to provide basic information concerning college attendance and performance,”

    I agree.

    Then isn’t it reasonable for the a father to demand an accounting for child support paid to a mother?

    • LoboSolo:
      Thanks for taking your valuable time to visit my website and pose a thoughtful comment.

      I agree. College is a privilege that parents give their children. With this wonderful privilege comes a responsibility.
      If a child doesn’t have a problem accepting their parents financial contribution; why would they have a problem with
      sharing how well their doing?

  2. I admittedly didn’t read the opinion yet. But this case seems less about the child’s rights or academic performance than a monetary dispute between two spouses. Melissa is the child but not the PLAINTIFF. Plaintiff presumably does not want to provide proof of attendance and academic performance to the ex-spouse that is paying for school.

    Otherwise, this should not be a legal matter. If it was the child refusing to provide their grades, the other parent could seemingly refuse to pay for school unless they’ve been ordered to as a portion of child support (seems unlikely for post-seconday school)

    • Lawrence "Larry" Berezin Reply April 25, 2011 at 10:11 am

      Thanks for stopping by and posing a great comment.

      In Van Brunt Mom is asserting that Melissa (age 22) is not providing her academic information. The Courts ultimate response is, okay Melissa, if you wish to hide behind FERPA, than the court will grant Dad’s application for declaration of emancipation.

      It is really a very interesting, far-reaching opinion.

    • It is quite refreshing to see the ex wife and daughter be held accountable for providing proof of full time college status. They will take the child support,free medical, college costs, etc. and then when the dad asks to see the grades they will not produce it. He has to take them to court 3 times to get it (read full case on the Nj judiciary site). However, if he misses a child support payment he is hauled off to jail and has his license suspended. It appears this is another case of a scorned ex wife refusing to cooperate and using her daughter as an excuse for not being able to get the info, what a shame.

  3. Lawrence "Larry" Berezin Reply April 29, 2011 at 9:15 pm


    Good evening. You make a great point in a thoughtful way, on a very emotional issue.

    I believe that the right of privacy of an “adult” college student is trumped by the right of a parent to understand the status of the “adult” child’s status in school.

    Great decision.

  4. Lawrence "Larry" Berezin Reply April 26, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    Dear Hit,

    I agree!
    Thanks for taking your valuable time to share your thoughtful opinion.


  1. Hit Coffee » The Right To See a Grade - April 25, 2011

    […] 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 […]

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