Should I take the kids to Disney World or do I obey school attendance laws?

There are many people who consider a trip to Disneyland or Disney World a treat of a lifetime for their school age kids.  Hey, I mean what kid doesn’t want to go to a Disney park at least once?

school attendance lawsDisney is such a draw, that people actually  take their kids out of school to take them there.  Is this a good idea?  Well, if you are an intact family, who will complain?  However, if you are a divorced or separated parent, then the other parent might.

If you are going through a divorce, or a custody proceeding, then you can be sure that the other parent will object to kids missing school for Disney (or any other cool activity).

School attendance laws require school attendance

Most school districts in most states have compulsory attendance laws.  This means that most schools require students to attend school when it is in session.

These rules are often broken, because some parents want to travel when kids are supposed to be in school, so they can avoid crowds, or they can fit the travel into the parent’s schedule.

Missing school does not cause legal problems when parents are getting along, and both of them are “on board” for the kids playing hooky.

The problems arise when the parents are fighting over custody and visitation.

The truth is, that most Judges are not OK with kids missing school.  Even for good reasons, such as parents or grandparents taking the kids out of school to take them to Disney World.

The judges might be against it from their own experiences, or they may be familiar with studies  suggesting that missing school is bad for kids.

One study has found that missing school negatively impacts student success.   By receiving fewer hours of instruction, students often perform poorly on exams.  Upon their return to school, absent students often feel a sense of alienation from their teachers and other students, which inhibits their ability to learn.

In any case, taking your kids out of school gives the impression that you do not take their education seriously, and that therefore, you are not as good a parent as you could be.

It has been my experience that evidence of a parent taking their kid out of school for things like a fabulous trip to Disney World, (or a week of hunting in Wyoming), is looked down upon by almost all judges hearing custody cases.

Therefore, if you are involved in a custody battle, or think that custody of your children might become an issue in your life, then make sure your kids are always in school.

Posted by Steve Harton