The Effect of Children Missing School and Other Parenting Issues on Child Custody Rights
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UPDATED: Sep 9, 2011
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If your former spouse or partner is not taking your child to school, there could be severe consequences in store for them. This is less true if your former spouse or partner is allowing your child to make extremely slow academic progress. It is typically harder to determine who is at fault if your child is doing badly in school. Typically, academic performance issues are resolved through parent-teacher conferences rather than court cases.
Whether the overriding issue is attendance or academic performance, seek the advice of an experienced divorce or family law attorney. You likely have an end goal of modifying the existing custody arrangement. This will involve a return to divorce or family court. You will need effective representation to explain a change in circumstances to the divorce or family court judge.
Before you return to court, consider some alternatives to modifying the existing custody arrangement. You may want to meet with your former spouse or partner with a certified mediator or alternative dispute resolution (ADR) specialist. You may be able to resolve the issues outside the adversarial atmosphere of a civil courtroom.
If you go to court, show you have your child’s best interests at heart. Many former romantic partners put their children in the middle of a never-ending court battle. Judges look at this with a critical eye. They want to see even separated parents work together. When you come to a courtroom to discuss your child, explain that you have listened to your child’s side of the story. Show that you have done everything possible to improve the situation for your child.
If necessary, you may want to involve the school district in the matter. Recently, a number of school districts have created special boards to discuss children who are chronically late or truant. The boards require parents who are creating the problem to attend their meetings. If you take this avenue, understand that you may become required to attend the board meetings as well.
In addition, if your former spouse or partner has caused your child to miss a great deal of the school year, they may be sued by the school district or the District Attorney in civil or criminal court. A number of states have laws that require a parent to make sure their child is coming to school. A civil or criminal case decided against your former partner has the potential to benefit you.
Judges often disapprove of cutting a badly-behaving parent out of a custody arrangement altogether. Although you may be able to argue successfully that you should get more or full custody of your child, understand that a judge wants you not to appear vindictive. Their goal is to work toward the best interests of the child. In many cases, this means making sure the child is able to be parented by both parents. Talk to your attorney about choosing the right path and the right attitude to resolve your case.