Written By: Paul Deep, Esq
This is a continuing discussion of Legal Myths and Realities because an informed citizen is usually the most successful citizen.
MYTH: If a student fails to attend school regularly the school district cannot do anything about it.
REALITY: A school district can bring a PINS petition against any student, under eighteen years of age, for their failure to attend school regularly. PINS stands for Person In Need of Supervision and the law allows a parent, peace officer, a victim or a school district to file a petition. The school district only has to prove that the student is failing to attend school regularly without a legal excuse. The Judge would then have to decide how to ensure that the child would go to school. The judge can put the student on probation or if necessary put the child in a facility to provide services to the child and to ensure that they go to school as required by the law.
MYTH: A stepparent cannot be found to have neglected a step-child or step-children.
REALITY: Any person who is determined to be a parent or a person who is legally responsible for the care of a child, or children, can be determined to have neglected a child. This is very common in Family Court where a stepparent is accused of child neglect. If the court decides that a step parent either committed an act against a child or failed to act when they should have to protect a child, they can be found to have neglected a child. The judge then must decide what should be done to protect the child, or children, in the future and can issue orders against the step parent. If the stepparent does not follow the judge’s orders, the judge can find them in contempt of court and even incarcerate the step-parent if the contempt is severe enough.
MYTH: The wealthier parent is automatically entitled to custody of the children when the parents split up.
REALITY: There are many factors for the court to consider in determining custody of the children. One of the factors in deciding custody is the financial capabilities of the parents. However, this factor in, and of, itself generally does not carry too much significance. There are several factors that can grossly outweigh the income of each parent and the court is required to consider all of the relevant factors to determine what is in the child’s best interest. For instance, the quality of the home environment and the parental guidance the parent provides for the child; the ability of each parent to provide for the child’s emotional and intellectual development; the relative fitness of the respective parents and the length of time the present custody arrangement has been in effect, if applicable, are significant factors for the court to consider in deciding what is in the child’s best interest.
Giving attention to Legal Myths is not wrong. It can be a starting point for developing an interest in the Law. However, if legal issues are important in your life, for instance, but not limited to, custody of children, money payable for any reason or any other civil or criminal matter, it is wise to consult with a lawyer who can advise you of the truth of the many legal myths. This discussion is not intended to render legal advice on specific cases or to express an opinion on any specific case or to display any predisposition.