QLD 50/50 shared care, child not attending school often in mother's care

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JadeGoldCoast

Well-Known Member
7 October 2017
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3
389
Hi all,

I posted earlier in the year regarding our concerns that my step-son had been missing school while in his mother's care. We have a 50/50 care arrangement and have already gone through the court process to gain this arrangement.
Unfortunately, the school attendance in the mother's care is getting worse and we are not getting much support from the school. They have advised this is a family problem.

The first half of the years attendance is too tricky to work out as the child was kept home from school by his mother weeks before and weeks after the recommended Covid school shut downs.
The second half of the school year currently looks like this:

Week 2 - 2 days off
Week 4 - 1 day off
Weed 6 - 4 days off
Week 8 - 1 day off
Week 10 - 2 days off

Week 2 - 1 day off
Week 4 - 1 day off
Week 8 (current week) - so far 3 days off

These are the days we have received SMS messages for, there are other days where the mother has informed the school that the child would not be attending and we have therefore not received a SMS message for these days. We will be requesting an attendance report for the child to get the full picture of his attendance.

There is a clear pattern to us that the mother is purposefully keeping the child home. The child tells us his mother has told him to pretend he has been sick and also says statements such as 'mum will miss me if I go to school 'mum isn't allowed to go to the sports day so i needed to stay home or she wouldn't miss me'.

I guess our questions is, do we have any legal paths we can take to try and encourage higher attendance of school in the mother's care? My understanding is that you can only go back to court if something happens that renders the current orders not possible - a parent moves away for example.

Any advice would be appreciated, thanks!
 

sammy01

Well-Known Member
27 September 2015
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nope - I really don't like my advice sometimes.
So because you are in a 50/50 care arrangment, obviously the kid is in school all the time when with you. So his attendance is gonna be about 60? maybe 70% in total. That means school won't see it as a welfare concern.

I reckon all you can do is apply pressure to mum. This one is probably worth dropping a grand into a solicitor's pocket for them to write a menancing letter threatening court if this continues. But I'd wait till next year so the menace doesn't get lost over the long summer break.

Or withold the child and seek orders for you guys to become primary care BUT thats a lot of hoops to jump through and no real guarantee of success...

Yup - don't like my advice sometimes.
 

JadeGoldCoast

Well-Known Member
7 October 2017
116
3
389
Hi Sammy,

Your advice is very honest and helpful which is what we need so thank you!
Withholding the child would become messy and the mother would collect the child from his school so I don't think this could work.

I like the idea of sending a letter via a solicitor in the new year. I have just looked over the current orders and there is an order that stipulates 'that each parent shall ensure that the child attend all educational, sporting and hobby events when the child are with that parent in all reasonable circumstances'. I am hoping that this order could allow up to apply for court if she continues to keep him home regularly?
I guess the problem arises when the mother starts listing his days off as sickness, as we cannot prove he is not constantly unwell on her week, even if it seems obvious to us that he is not.
 

JadeGoldCoast

Well-Known Member
7 October 2017
116
3
389
A quick update, we have just received a copy of the child's absence report and for this year alone it is 6 pages long. The child is getting dropped off around 10am and picked up around 2pm on the days that he is attending school in his mother's care. She is also collecting him at 10am on the Fridays when he returns to her care, so isn't actually attending a full week of school even when in our care.
 

sammy01

Well-Known Member
27 September 2015
4,519
654
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1. Let her know and make some kinda idle threats.
Dear Nutter,
I have become aware of XXX school attendance records when he is in your care. I have attached them to this email.

You have a responsibility to the child to ensure he is in attendance at school This situation is unsatisfactory and should it continue I will seek redress through the courts and in doing so I will be applying for court orders that remove your parental responsibility for XXXX's education and for XXX to live primarily with me.

I'd get onto that right away to see if you see any immediate changes with the last few weeks of school. Except you're in QLD? So only what 3 weeks left? Might be better off having this fight next year just before school goes back.

If that fails a threatening letter from solicitor early next year.
If that fails get back to us. I reckon I can talk you through a contravention applicaiton without needing you to spend $ on solicitors.
 

JadeGoldCoast

Well-Known Member
7 October 2017
116
3
389
Hi Sammy,

Thanks so much for your response. Yes we are QLD based so we will wait until the start of the 2021 term to email the mother and see how things go in semester 1. If there isn't any improvement we will contact a lawyer and let you know. We self represented during the last court proceedings and ended up with all requested orders so would feel comfortable applying for contravention with some guidance from yourself if possible.

Thanks so much for your time again!
 

sammy01

Well-Known Member
27 September 2015
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yeah no worries. Poor kid having to miss out on his education because mummy gets lonely at home... FFS I'd happily help you guys get primary care of that kid.
 

Rosscoe

Well-Known Member
21 October 2020
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Keeping a child out of school without justification and not allowing them to participate meaningfully in the education system can be classified as educational neglect. I agree that writing a stern letter to the OP requesting the child not be kept out of school without justification is a starting point. I would also be gathering as much information from the school as possible. Speak to the educators, try find out reasons why the child is being kept out of school, keep contemporaneous notes of when the children have said things like "mummy misses us when we go to school" etc. If it continues I would think that you have to act quick and apply for a change in the care arrangements in for the child. There are many judgments where judges are critical of parents where they involve children in their "adult feelings" or become dependent on the children for their state of mind.
 

JadeGoldCoast

Well-Known Member
7 October 2017
116
3
389
Hi Rosscoe, thank you for your reply. Yes we will be having another meeting with the school before the end of term to discuss the matter again. Unfortunately it has been our experience that they do not like to get involved too much but hopefully if we advise we are considering going back to court in the future they might be more forthcoming?

Unfortunately the mother completely depends on the child for her happiness. The child currently sleeps in the same room as the mother and her partner when in her care, at the start of the year it was in the same bed and so my partner offered to buy the child a bed. The mother of course denied that the child was sleeping in her bed but the child has no reason to make it up and still continues to ask to sleep in our bed regularly. The mother is also keeping the child in nappies at night time even though he is fully trained in our care (he is 7 years of age). She did this with day time nappies also and only stopped when we advised we were applying for court orders in 2017. It is almost as if she wants the child to stay a baby and be dependent on her, but of course we can not prove that.

I am wondering if anyone is aware if we will we need to go through the mediation path and request a 60i certificate to apply for a contravention order? The child hasn't attended school again today. Mother is stating child came home from school unwell on Friday, however his school records show she came into the school to collect him at 10am last Friday (she was not called in due to him being unwell). We will make sure to document all SMS messages from the mother like we did for the last court case. Including a SMS message a few months ago where my partner questioned why the child hadn't been attending school and she replied that she gives him the option to attend (he was 6 at the time).
 

Rosscoe

Well-Known Member
21 October 2020
68
4
199
I think that would entirely depend on what you current orders state. If the OP is in breach of any of the orders made previously then you can apply for contravention order. What do the specific provisions relating to schooling state, and do the orders mention anything about how disputes going forward are to be addressed? quite often there is a clause saying disputes are to be addressed in mediation which would then open the door for 60i etc.

It seems new circumstances have arisen subsequent to the orders being granted in your case (justifying going the legal route) and it may be necessary to head back to court to get the orders amended to ensure the child goes to school.

YUP... absolutely critical to be documenting all of these things. Get it in chronological order and then also keep records of what you are trying to do to rectify the situation.