Modification of a Custody Order: Part 8 – School Attendance

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Excessive absences from school while a child is in the care of a parent can reflect poorly on a parent’s ability to guide and nurture the child and provide for the child’s education and emotional growth.

A court must look at the reasons for the absences from school and their impact on the child.  For example, in one case the court found that the child’s excessive school absences and tardiness were not attributable to poor parenting by the mother and instead they were due to multiple stresses in the child’s life.  In that case, the child’s poor school attendance was excusable.

On the other hand, in a case where the court found that the child’s absences frequently were related to mother’s psychological need to spend time with the child and not for a valid medical reason, this reflected very poorly on the mother.  This demonstrated that the father was better suited to ensure that the child’s education needs were met and formed a basis for an award of residential custody to the father.

Typically, attendance problems and excessive absences do not occur in isolation.  A parent who cannot get their child to school many times has some serious problems of their own.  Most often these relate to drugs or alcohol.  Those issues are the subject of other posts in this series.

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