Tyler Coe Interviewed About Kids Returning To School When Parents are Divorced


Divorce and family law attorney Tyler Coe was interviewed by Eva Andersen, ABC 5 Local News, on July 17, 2020 about the complex situation parents who live in separate households face when determining whether to send kids back to school, or participate in online learning, or consider home schooling.

Topics included addressing situations Iowa parents face including these scenarios:

What to do when parents have joint legal custody?

Parent A wants the kids to attend school virtually while Parent B wants the kids to attend school in-person. Joint legal custody generally requires both parents equally participate in decisions regarding education. See 598.1(3); 598.41(5)(b) (requiring physical care parent in a non-joint physical care arrangement to support the other parent’s legal rights); In re Marriage of Weidner, 338 N.W.2d 351, 359 (Iowa 1983) (states joint legal custody is preferred because it encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities of childrearing).

What to do when one parent has primary physical care?

If one parent has primary physical care and the parties disagree over virtual/in-person schooling, does the decision of virtual or in-person schooling fall to the primary physical care parent? The case In re Marriage of Matteson, No. 16-0401, 2017 WL 361999, at *3 (Iowa Ct. App. 2017) states that while joint legal custodians have rights and responsibilities to the equal participation in decisions impacting a child’s education and must be consulted regarding where a child attends school, the primary physical care parent has the final say on the subject. Id.; In re Marriage of Hoffman, 867 N.W.2d 26, 35-36 (Iowa 2015) (finding the physical care parent should have final say concerning where the child’s home should be, including which school the child should attend). Note that both parents, especially the parent with primary physical care, must have good faith conversations regarding the topic before the primary physical care parent makes a final decision.

Parents who have joint physical care must agree on issues impacting the minor children. If they cannot agree, they might be forced to seek help from the court.

Other topics included:

  • When neither parent has custody
  • Communication with children about school options and decisions

See the video and read the transcript on the We Are Iowa website.

Every situation dealing with divorce and children is unique and a divorce and family lawyer can assist you with the process. Contact Des Moines divorce and family law attorney Tyler Coe at 515-288-6041 or coe@whitfieldlaw.com for more information.


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