In a family law context, “Educational Neglect” refers to a parent’s failure to provide for a child’s basic needs with regards to school and education.  In most cases, this refers to younger children who are still claimed as dependents of the parent.  It can also include any adult who is legally responsible for the child, such as a stepparent, legal guardian, or custodian of the child.  Educational neglect is often classified under child abuse and neglect laws. 

In order for an adult to be held liable for educational neglect, it needs to be proven that the parent has failed to provide an education for the child that is consistent with state requirements.  Thus, educational neglect laws may vary depending on the family and education laws in each particular region.

What are Some Forms of Educational Neglect?

Education neglect generally implies the parent’s failure to perform certain duties on behalf of the child and their educational needs.  These can include:

  • Failing to ensure that the child receives proper educational care and attention
  • Failing to enroll the child in school
  • Allowing the child to continually miss school, be delinquent, or truant
  • Deliberately interfering with the child’s educational development

In some states, educational neglect only applies to children of a certain age, which is generally from the ages 7-14 (the ages may vary by state).  Also, there may be separate neglect provisions that specifically address children who are being home-schooled.

Are There Any Legal Consequences for Educational Neglect?

There may be several legal consequences for educational neglect.  These can include:

  • Loss of child custody rights
  • Diminished child visitation rights, or a total loss of visitation altogether
  • In serious cases, or cases involving willful conduct, there may be criminal penalties involved

In some cases, lack of income is not an excuse for failing to provide for a child’s educational needs.  This is especially true in situations where the custodial parent could have worked, but simply chose not to.  In such cases, the court may enforce principals of imputed income (calculating how much the parent should have made) to determine whether the parent should be found liable for educational neglect.

Should I Hire a Lawyer if I Have Legal Issues Involving Educational Neglect?

Educational neglect can have very serious consequences on the child.  Thus, educational neglect laws are enforced rather strictly in order to avoid negative effects on the child’s upbringing.  If you have any legal issues involving educational neglect or any other form of neglect, you should contact a child custody attorney immediately.  Your attorney near you can help explain how the laws in your area may affect you, and what your options are under the law.